Substance use

An overview of all the substance use-related services at Providence Health Care.


People use substances for different reasons and most won’t have any serious issues. But for some people, these substances can lead to dependency, affecting their health, well-being and daily life.

The term “substance use” refers to the use of many products including legal substances such as alcohol, cannabis, or nicotine, as well as both prescribed and and non-prescribed substances like opioids or stimulants. Anyone, at any age or any stage of their life can have a substance use problem.

If you use substances in a way that impacts your health, well-being and daily life, you may be coming to St. Paul’s Hospital or other facilities to get help. We know that your path to wellness is not easy and that every single individual has a unique journey.

Because it is a complicated condition, people who use substances need different options to support them including emergency services, social supports, harm reduction, stabilization, treatment and recovery, primary care, peer support, psychology and access to specialist care such as internal medicine and psychiatry services.

We are grateful for our relationships and partnerships with other health authorities, governments, universities and not-for-profit organizations from across the province (and country) which are so important for us to successfully treat our patients.


Common substance use disorders

Harm reduction

Each year, Providence Health Care clinicians and staff treat thousands of patients for substance use. For people in crisis, accessing the right care at the right time can be extremely challenging. So we meet you where you are – at St. Paul’s Hospital as well as in the community.

We strive to make you feel welcomed with culturally-appropriate, trauma-informed care. And we support them in you in your journey of recovery.

Because many people who use substances can end up in the hospital for any reason, St. Paul’s Hospital clinicians and staff try to keep them safe by offering on-site harm reduction services.

Overdose Prevention Site, St. Paul’s Hospital 

Opened in 2021, the Overdose Prevention Site inside of St. Paul’s Hospital is staffed with peer support workers. It’s a place where clients of St. Paul’s Hospital can access harm reduction supplies, take home naloxone kits, and peer support. For clients who substances via injection, they can use one of the booths in the OPS and be supervised for a toxic drug overdose. It is the first of its kind within an acute-care hospital in Canada.


Treatment & management

The Substance Use Program at Providence Health Care provides a range of coordinated emergency, diagnosis and treatment services for people with substance use issues. We provide this care in-hospital and in the community.

Because of our location, we address the needs of mostly city-based populations with complex health problems. But we also offer expertise and support throughout the province.

Clinics & services that treat substance use


Support services

Providence Health Care offers a variety of services to support those we care for. The following services may be of use or benefit to you and your families.

Support for Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Wellness Liaison Team is here to support your health journey. Team members offer cultural support and healthcare advocacy. Learn more below or call them at 604-682-2344,62937 or email

  • Indigenous wellness services

    The Indigenous Wellness Team at Providence is available to support Indigenous patients and their families. We are here to coordinate culturally safe wellness supports and services.

Clinical trials & research

Advances in substance use treatment are all thanks to medical research. While participating in research is a decision you should make for yourself in consultation with your care team, there is much activity in this area so please ask us about our research programs if you’re interested.

By taking part in research, you can help us all learn more about substance use and find better ways to help people like you live and thrive with the condition. While you cannot assume benefit to yourself, your participation can make a difference in improving care for future patients.

The following clinical trials are currently enrolling volunteers. Please ask your care team for more information or contact the research team listed on each study or trial. For other information about research at Providence Health Care, please visit Providence Research.

Substance use research & training groups at Providence

Providence Health Care is a global leader in research and innovation for substance use treatment. We have several research and training organizations within Providence who devote their time and expertise to learning more about this complex condition and helping to educate others about these new advances. We encourage you to explore their websites to learn more about their work in substance use research and training.

Medical & health professionals

Care guidance 

The BC Centre for Substance Use (BCCSU), based at St. Paul’s Hospital, supports primary care clinicians and other health care providers across the province in using the most up-to-date, evidence-based approaches to addiction and substance use screening, assessment, and treatment.

Job seekers

We’re the largest clinical substance use health team in BC, and global leaders in care, training and research. With some of the highest volume of patients in Canada, we’re building an interdisciplinary team that strives daily to adapt to the shifting needs of clients and patients. Our work is stressful and often challenging, but we fiercely support one another. We gather together on difficult tasks, leaving no one on their own. We support each other to act decisively and proactively, and take strength and pride for being global leaders in this field.

News & stories