Considerations for Virtual Services and Supports for Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders [Policy Brief]

Published by
Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Publication Date

The Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) in partnership with the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, the Canadian Psychological Association and Canada Health Infoway, collected national data on the experience and perceptions of virtual services and supports, including education and access to health care or treatment.

COVID-19 safety restrictions drove the need for online and phone services to replace face-to-face counselling and supports. People using substances are experiencing virtual services differently depending on their age, gender and where they are in Canada. It was important to understand how different people are experiencing services that are delivered through technology such as telemedicine, video conferencing or other apps.

The policy brief highlights key findings from a national survey of people who use substances about their perceptions of and experiences with accessing virtual services through telemedicine, video conference and other apps. 

The survey was conducted between February and April 2021 and asked people about:

  • Their satisfaction with virtual services and supports for substance use and concurrent disorders,

  • Their perceptions of the effectiveness of these services,

  • The barriers they faced to accessing these services.

The researchers also interviewed practitioners from across Canada who provided virtual services and supports for substance use disorders or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders during the pandemic.