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 drugs or alcohol 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. To learn about substance use, find services near you, see information from your health authority, and review a list useful websites, click on the links on this webpage.
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, call 8-1-1 any time of the day, any day of the year.
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 groups all of our substance use related information together 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.
Alcohol and Drug Use
Alcohol or 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.
- Alcohol and Drug Problems
- Alcohol and Drug Use in Young People
- Harm Reduction for Families and Caregivers (HealthLinkBC File #102b)
- Understanding Harm Reduction: Substance Use (HealthLink BC File #102a)
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.
- Alcohol and Other Drug Use During Pregnancy
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (HealthLinkBC File #38e)
- Pregnancy and Alcohol Use (HealthLinkBC File #38d)
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.
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.
- Toward the Heart
- Find a Harm Reduction Site, Find Naloxone Supplies
- Overdose Survival Guide (available in English, French, Chinese and Punjabi)
- How to Use Naloxone (Narcan) (Video)
- Naloxone Wakes You Up (Video)
- Naloxone Saves Lives (Video)
Last Reviewed: August 2017