Substance Use

The term “substance use” refers to the use of drugs or alcohol, and includes substances such as cigarettes, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, inhalants and solvents. A substance use problem occurs when using alcohol or other drugs causes harm to you or to others. Substance use problems can lead to addiction.

Anyone, at any age or any stage of their life can have a substance use problem. It is important to know that no matter how you are feeling, you are not alone. There is help out there. The links below contain useful information about a wide range of topics regarding substance use and its effects on yourself and the people around you.

Individual, family and small group counselling is available to people of all ages who are directly or indirectly affected by alcohol and other drug use by calling the 24-hour BC Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service. In the Lower Mainland, call 604-660-9382, or call toll-free at 1-800-663-1441 from anywhere in B.C.

For additional information or advice, including non-emergency information on how to access alternatives to toxic drug supply and substance use services, call 8-1-1 any time of the day, any day of the year.

Learning Centre

There are a number of health topics that fall under substance use. Finding the information you are looking for can be overwhelming. Our Learning Centre has substance use information in one place so you can easily find what you are looking for.

For help navigating our website, call 8-1-1 to speak with a health services navigator any time of the day, any day of the year.

Featured Resources

Alcohol and Other Drug Use

Alcohol and other drug use becomes a problem when it causes harm to you or to others. Learn about symptoms, harm reduction strategies and how to get help.

When you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, the safest option is to not drink alcohol at all. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy puts your baby at risk. Similar to drinking alcohol while pregnant, taking drugs during pregnancy or while breastfeeding may harm your baby. Learn more about the risks of drinking alcohol or using drugs while pregnant.


Cannabis can be used for medical or non-medical purposes. Cannabis for non-medical use is legal in Canada as of October 17, 2018. Cannabis for medical purposes has been legal in Canada for several years. Learn how cannabis can impact the health of you and your family and find information about cannabis, safer use, regulations and more.

Overdose Awareness

Drug related overdoses are a serious concern in British Columbia. Learn what it means to be drug smart, the signs of an overdose, what you should do if someone is overdosing, and how naloxone can help reverse opioid overdose.

Featured Website

Overdose Prevention and Response in B.C.

Drug-related overdoses and deaths have become a very serious concern in the last year in B.C. It can happen to someone you know. Learn more about signs of an overdose, what to do, how to prevent overdoses, resources and about Naloxone.

Toward the Heart

Toward the Heart is a harm reduction program of the BC Centre for Disease Control. Visit their website to learn about naloxone, fentanyl, and other harm reduction information. Toward the Heart also offers a harm reduction site locator to help you find Take Home Naloxone (THN) Program supplies in your community.

Last Updated: July 2021

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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