More help at Surrey, B.C., clinic providing substance-use help for South Asians

SURREY, B.C. — A clinic that provides substance-use counselling and support for South Asians struggling with addiction has expanded its hours in Surrey, B.C., after moving to a facility near related services including a detox centre.

Dr. Sharon Vipler, who specializes in addiction medicine for Fraser Health, says services at the Roshni Clinic are available in Punjabi and Hindi and those who need medication to withdraw from opioids will get that help.

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She says the culturally appropriate services at the clinic that is open late two evenings during the week and for half a day on Sundays help to build trust in a community that often keeps issues related to substance use a secret.

Vipler says there's been a shift from people politely declining referrals to mainstream health services to now accepting what's being offered in a culturally tailored way.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy says 210 people fatally overdosed on illicit drugs in Surrey last year as part of a crisis that's hitting all regions of the province.

Darcy says she has heard powerful and moving stories from South Asians dealing with substance use while also coping with family pressures and deep-rooted stereotypes about mental health and addiction.

"I heard loud and clear from everyone who spoke to me the call for more education, for more promotion about mental health literacy in our schools and in our communities," she says. "And I learned how absolutely critical it is to embed South Asian languages and practices into mental health and substance-use services.

The Roshni Clinic opened in 2017 as the only such service provider in B.C. and now has 350 active clients.

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