UBC CPD develops clinical care pathway for child and youth substance use

“They feel alone, ashamed, and hopeless”. While these words specifically describe Riley—a 16-year-old patient who visited his doctor following experimentation with drugs including cannabis, Adderall, psilocybin, and Xanax to cope with a lack of focus and other mental health concerns—they speak to the complexity of pediatric addiction medicine. UBC CPD hope to help physicians navigate this challenge through the development and recent launch of the youth substance use clinical care pathway.

“We were motivated to create an interactive point of care clinical care pathway tool for physicians that would increase their confidence, support them in management and team-based care, and provider referral resources for ease accessibility,” explains Dr Shirley Sze, family physician and member of the Substance Use Working Group of the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use (CYMHSU) Community of Practice (CoP).

In 2021, using a small amount of unspent funds from a previous project (and with the Committee’s approval), the CYMHSU CoP brought together a group of four physicians to explore the possibility of developing a youth substance use clinical care pathway.

Fast forward to 2022, physicians from Foundry BC, Pathways BC, BC Centre for Substance Use, and Interior Health Authority continued to meet on a regular basis to advance the creation of the pathway. Now, the recently launched pathway includes clear clinical resources for clinicians, patients, and families alike. From mental health disorders care, to local resources for safe supply, detoxification, and rehabilitation, the pathway serves to improve care and better support patients, especially at such a formative stage of their lives.

“Drawing upon our experts in addiction medicine and pediatrics, we pay particular attention to the biopsychosocial environment and the developmental stages of the youth, which is unique and different from Adult Substance Use disorder,” says Dr Sze.

The project team, having completed and released the clinical care pathway recently, are shifting their focus to an upcoming webinar (June 24) and further case-based small group workshops in the fall.

This project was funded by the Shared Care Committee, a joint collaborative committee representing a partnership between Doctors of BC and the Government of BC.

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