The BC Substance Use Conference: Coming Together *SOLD OUT*

The BC Substance Use Conference: Coming Together *SOLD OUT*

Hosted by The BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU)

Target Audience:

Physicians, nurses, allied health, residents

Course Format: Keynote speaker, panel presentation, multiple streams, awards dinner and much more!
  • May 23, 2019 to May 25, 2019
JW Marriott Parq Vancouver
39 Smithe St
Full-Sized Map


** IMPORTANT NOTICE ***  We have reached capacity for this conference - we have closed registration at this time.  To be added to a waitlist please email with "BCCSU waitlist" in the subject line.

The BC Substance Use Conference 2019 is the first annual conference hosted by the BC Centre on Substance Use, bringing together key stakeholders from around the province to discuss provincial efforts to treat and care for people with substance use disorders. This three day event will include research, education, and clinical care guidance presentations and workshops across several topics within substance use including opioid, alcohol, and cannabis use disorders.

Our event will be held at the JW Marriott in Vancouver from Thursday, May 23rd - Saturday, May 25th. We have also reserved rooms at this hotel for your convenience and have discounted early registration rates until February 15th, 2019.

For the first annual conference, we will not be accepting abstract proposals but we look forward to integrating this into our conference for future years.




Subject to change

5:00 - 6:00 PM Registration
6:00 - 6:05 PM Welcome
6:05 - 7:30 PM Health Authority Specialty Presentations - Innovative Implementation
7:30 - 8:30 PM Pathways to choice: alternatives to the toxic drug supply - Presentation & Panel |  Donald MacPherson (Moderator), Bonnie Henry (Presenter/Panelist), Panelists: Christy Sutherland, & Erica Thomson

  • Describe some of the key factors driving the opioid overdose epidemic, creation of the toxic drug supply, and innovative approaches to developing alternatives to the illicit drug supply.
  • Outline the recommended guiding principles proposed by the Provincial Health Officer‎ to support the development of a safer drug supply.
  • Reflect on the ongoing challenges affecting people who use drugs and the need for action to help save lives.

8:30 - 9:00 PM Networking + Art Viewing + Silent Auction


Subject to change

07:00 - 08:00 AM Registration
08:00 - 09:00 AM Breakfast, Poster Viewing
09:00 - 09:30 AM Introductions | Cheyenne Johnson, Edler Welcome
09:30 - 09:45 AM Welcome | Hon. Judy Darcy
09:45 - 10:45 AM KeynoteCreating Safe Places: Rural Care for Indigenous Youth | Mae Katt
10:45 - 11:00 AM Break and travel time to breakout sessions

11:00 - 12:00 PM Indigenous Informed Primary Care & Cultural Safety Evan Adams (Moderator) | Harley Eagle

  • Provide an understanding of Cultural Safety and Cultural Humility in the health care setting
  • Describe the connection between the Indigenous experience of colonialism and culturally un-safe settings
  • Describe steps health care providers can take to address racism and promote cultural safety in this era of Reconciliation
  • Describe lessons learned and best practices emerging from Indigenous Cultural Safety practitioner perspectives

11:00 - 01:00 PM What's Next in OUD Care Workshop & Case Based Learning | Paxton Bach (Moderator) Christy Sutherland & Wendy Stevens

  • Apply screening, diagnosis, and brief intervention and referral to treatment for substance use disorders in clinical cases.
  • Select the appropriate pharmacological and psychosocial treatment interventions based on the best evidence as well as individual patient needs, circumstances, and preferences using case scenarios.
  • Adjust treatment plans as clinical presentation, patient goals, and context change over time.

11:00 - 01:00 PM Fellow and Trainee Research Presentations

12:00 - 1:00 PM Exploring the Next Frontiers of Harm Reduction Practice and Policy | Sara Young (Moderator) & Panelist: Eris Nyx, Charlene Burmeister, Cheri Newman, Kevin Donaghy, & Paul Choisil

1:00 - 02:00 PM Lunch & Poster/Exhibit Viewing
02:00 - 02:45 PM The Youth Perspective | Vicki Klassen (Moderator) & Panelists: Sharon Vipler, Matthew Piercy, Carmen Verdicchio, Elise Durante, & Alison Gear

  • Describe and apply the principles for treating youth with substance use disorders.
  • Describe youth-specific considerations for treating substance use disorders.
  • Identify and refer to youth-specific treatment resources.

02:00-02:30 PM How Drug Policies Affect Patients | Dr. Carl Hart

02:30 - 03:30 PM How Patients Want to be Treated Panel | Ramm Hering (Moderator) & Panelists: Leslie McBain, Laura Shaver, Hawkfeather Peterson, Gary Lising, & Zak Matieschyn

  • Discuss key themes in patient experiences, particularly around opioid agonist treatment (OAT) service provision, in British Columbia.
  • Highlight patient and family advocacy efforts to address shortcomings in substance use care.
  • Explore how to improve substance use services through the compassionate engagement of patients and families, capacity-building of care providers, and collaboration between communities, providers, and health leadership.

02:00 - 03:30 PM Fellow and Trainee Research Presentations

02:45 - 03:30 PM Sexual and gender identity: Implications for substance use care | Peter Hoong (Moderator) & Panelists: Rod Knight, Rodney Stehr, AJ Lowik, & Caroline Mniszak

  • Describe a set of guiding principles for providing Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex (2SLGBTQI)-centered substance use care.
  • Describe three examples of how 2SLGBTQI+ populations experience distinct needs around substance use care.
  • Provide guidance on how 2SLGBTQI+-centered programming and practices can be advanced to improve health and social outcomes for 2SLGBTQI+ populations.

Travel time - return to plenary room
03:30 - 05:00 PM Psychedelics as Medicine | Ken Tupper (Moderator) & Panelists: Gabor Mate, Nitasha Puri, Zach Walsh, & Joanna Simundic

  • Describe a range of current clinical scientific investigations into psychedelic treatments for substance use disorders and other mental health issues
  • Recognize some of the explanatory mechanisms (neuroscientific, psychological, spiritual) hypothesized to account for the potential therapeutic efficacy of psychedelic treatments for addictions
  • Recognize the importance of psychotherapeutic foundations of psychedelic-assisted therapy, including preparation before and integration after medication-assisted sessions
  • Examine the challenges and opportunities in the advancement of psychedelic research and its potential contributions to health system policy change.

05:00 - 06:00 PM Time for guests to get ready for dinner
06:00 - 09:00 PM Dinner and Awards Banquet (Lifetime Achievement Award and Presentation Lindsay Richardson)


Subject to change
08:00 - 09:00 AM Registration
09:00 - 09:30 AM Breakfast & Networking
09:30 - 10:45 AM How We Talk About the Opioid Crisis | Moderator TBC, Panelists: Garth Mullins, Megaphone Speaker, & Andrea Woo

  • Examine the role the media plays in shaping narratives around the opioid crisis.
  • Identify how peer-driven and -created media to change perceptions around addiction and substance use.
  • Discuss how to engage people with lived experiences and support platforms to tell their stories.

10:45 - 11:00 AM Break travel to breakout sessions

11:00 - 12:00 PM Detox in 2019, Preredictive Alcohol Withdrawal Severity Scale Implementation | Rupi Brar (Moderator), Sharon Vipler (Presenter), Panelists: Ron Joe, Jeff Harries, Ron Kuhlke, & Gerrard Prigmore

  • Use early identification and intervention in your practice in order to reduce alcohol-related harms and alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  • Apply screening and brief intervention for high-risk alcohol use
  • Diagnose an alcohol use disorder using the DSM-5.
  • Recognize the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
  • Assess the risk of severe complications of alcohol withdrawal (i.e., seizures, delirium tremens).
  • Select appropriate interventions for relapse prevention and long-term recovery management for patients with an alcohol use disorder.

11:00 - 01:00 PM Family Stakeholder Breakout Session | Leslie McBain, Family Engagement Lead, BCCSU; Co-founder; Moms Stop the Harm, Panelists: Nichola Hall, Khosrow Nikkah, Jennifer Cottell, Randy Puder, Deb Bailey, Louise Cameron

  • Discuss how family members and caregivers can be most effective as system changers.
  • Explore strategies for advocacy, activism, allyship, and health care systems navigation.
  • Reflect on progress, discuss remaining challenges, and strategize for change.

11:00 - 01:00 PM Peers Stakeholders Breakout Session | Ann Livingston

  • Discuss provincial challenges and priorities around health and human rights for people who use drugs across British Columbia.
  • Explore opportunities, barriers, and collective next steps to enhance the capacity of provincial and local drug user organizations.
  • Share tools, regional best practices, and mentorship opportunities."

11:00 - 01:00 PM Recovery Stakeholders Breakout Session | TBC

  • Identify promising models for recovery-oriented care, as well as challenges and opportunities for their implementation and evaluation.
  • Reflect on progress, remaining challenges, and future steps in building effective health systems, education, and clinical tools that promote recovery.

11:00 - 01:00 PM Advocacy at the Front Lines: Practical tools to enact change (presentation followed by workshop) | Andrea Burton

  • Identify various advocacy approaches and pros and cons of each.
  • Develop an advocacy plan related to a topic of interest.
  • Apply practical tools to advocate for change in current practice settings.

12:00 - 01:00 PM Cannabis and pain: where it began, where it is going… | M-J Milloy (Moderator) & Mark Ware (Presenter)

  • Appreciate the basic science rationale for cannabinoid pain therapeutics
  • Appraise the patient-centered and clinical evidence for cannabis use in pain management
  • Consider therapeutic strategies in a context of legal cannabis access

01:00 - 02:00 PM Lunch & Networking Time

02:00 - 04:00 PM Combined Stakeholder Meeting (How can community work better with primary care providers) | David Byres (Moderator), Presenters: Miranda Compton, Patricia Daly, Ted Patterson, and Karen Urbanoski / (Panelists TBC)

  • Share experiences across the three stakeholder groups around primary care access, quality, and consistency.
  • Discuss stakeholder priorities, challenges, and progress in creating safe primary care for people impacted by substance use.
  • Offer perspectives from government, providers, and researchers around how community priorities around substance use can be integrated into primary care practice

02:00 - 04:00 PM AUD + Guideline Recommendations | Paul Sobey (Moderator) & Keith Ahamad

  • Use early identification and intervention in your practice in order to reduce alcohol-related harms and alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  • Apply screening and brief intervention for high-risk alcohol use
  • Recognize the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
  • Assess the risk of severe complications of alcohol withdrawal (i.e., seizures, delirium tremens).
  • Select appropriate interventions for relapse prevention and long-term recovery management for patients with an alcohol use disorder.

02:00 - 03:00 PM Creating and Strengthening High-Functioning interdisciplinary Care Teams: Research & Practice | Christina Chant (Moderator),  Maura MacPhee (Presenter), Panelist: Reza Rafizadeh

  • Explore literature pertaining to high-functioning interdisciplinary teams.
  • Review barriers and facilitators to effective interdisciplinary teams in practice.
  • Examine ways to help teams function effectively.

03:00 - 04:00 PM Real World Polysubstance Use Management & Cases | Leslie Lappalainen (Moderator) Mark McLean

  • Define co-occurring substance use disorders and review available epidemiology on prevalence and associated harms.
  • Describe common presentations of co-occurring substance use.
  • Describe the risks, benefits, safe prescribing, and unique properties of pharmacotherapy options, where appropriate.

03:00 - 04:00 PM Cannabis Legalization and its Role in Addressing Problematic Substance Use | Rielle Capler(Moderator) M-J Milloy, David Hutchinson & Ian Mitchell

  • Gain understanding of the current status of cannabis laws and regulation (both medical and non-medical) in British Columbia and Canada.
  • Be familiar with the current research on cannabis use as it relates to harm reduction and the treatment of problematic substance use
  • Discuss how patients currently access cannabis to address problematic substance use
  • Interpret the role health care professionals within this evolving area of practice.
  • Interpret the challenges and opportunities for advancement of the use of cannabis to address harm reduction and problematic substance use.

Return to plenary room

04:00 - 04:30 PM Keynote: Why Does This Matter? | Guy Felicella
04:30 - 05:00 PM Closing Remarks | Dr. Evan Wood

Key Speakers

Mae Katt | Mae is a member of Temagami First Nation and a Nurse Practitioner in Thunder Bay. She has had a diverse career in Primary Health Care, community mental health and addictions, maternal and child care, research and policy development.  She is the Coordinator of a Treatment Team that provides opiate addiction treatment at a First Nations high school and to northern First Nation communities.  Ms. Katt has also worked in senior management positions at Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health (Ontario) and Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Guy Felicella | Guy grew up in a middle class home in Richmond but fell into addiction at a young age. Guy spent 30 years in the repeated cycle of gangs, addiction, treatment and jail. He spent nearly 20 years residing in the two block radius in the Downtown Eastside and using many resources, including harm reduction, to keep himself alive. Today, Guy has escaped the grips of the turmoil that kept him suffering and resides in Surrey with his wife and two young children with multiple years of recovery and sobriety under his belt. Guy is passionate about advocating for the vulnerable people who still suffer in addiction and educating communities on harm reduction through public speaking to eliminate the stigma that exists around it. Guy has started a career with Vancouver Coastal Health in addition to attending various school districts to educate students on addiction. Guy spent nearly his entire life suffering from the disease of addiction and now he is using his experience to change the hearts and minds of people stating, “you can’t save a dead addict.”

Conference Highlight

"Psychedelics As Medicine

Dr. Ken Tupper (Moderator)  | Since 1999, Dr. Tupper has studied the potential of psychedelic plants and substances to foster innovative thinking, to evoke experiences of wonder and awe, or to recover from addictions or eating disorders, when used carefully. Today, he is the Director of Implementation & Partnerships at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria. He is also currently a member of the Clinical & Scientific Advisory Board of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies – Canada (MAPS-Canada) and the Advisory Board of the Wasiwaska Research Centre in Brazil.


Dr. Gabor Maté | A renowned speaker, and bestselling author, Dr. Gabor Maté is highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics including addiction, stress and childhood development. For twelve years Dr. Maté worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core drug addiction, mental illness and HIV, including at Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site. As an author, Dr. Maté has written several bestselling books including the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction; When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress; and Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, and co-authored Hold on to Your Kids.
Nitasha Puri  MD CCFP(AM) | Nitasha is a Clinician Researcher with the BC Centre on Substance Use.  Her research interests focus on substance use among racialized populations, health equity for vulnerable populations, and healing and recovery from substance use disorder. Nitasha is the Principal Investigator at the BCCSU for the MAPS sponsored Phase 3 Clinical Trial exploring MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of Severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In addition, she is the Principal Investigator for a pilot trial exploring the use of psilocybin-assisted motivational enhancement therapy for the treatment of Alcohol and Stimulant Use Disorder. When not at the BCCSU, Nitasha is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, Medical Lead at the Roshni Clinic in Fraser Health, and physician consultant with Vancouver Coastal Health.
Joanna Simundic RCSW, RCC | Joanna Simundic has been in the helping profession serving various populations for the last 13 years.  She is the sole founder, owner and psychotherapist at Embracing Change Therapy, a private practice she started in 2013.  Complex trauma and trauma-related dissociation are her passion and calling in life as she supports individuals in healing and achieving post traumatic growth.  She was trained in early 2016 as one of the Research Therapists for the Phase III Clinical Trials in Vancouver exploring MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy.  Joanna possess a wide array of national and international experience working with trauma from her work in Medellin, Columbia working with marginalized youth, working with First Nations communities in Northern British Columbia and also supporting the homeless population in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Toronto, Ontario.  Her other passion is her devotion to spirituality and personal transformation as well as being out in nature, hiking and exploring the beauty of British Columbia. 
Zach Walsh, PhD | Zach Walsh is a clinical psychologist, a Research Affiliate with the BC Centre on Substance Use, and an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, where he directs the Therapeutic, Recreational, and Problematic Substance Use lab.  He has published and presented widely on topics related to psychedelics, cannabis, mental health and psychotherapy.  He is the lead investigator for several ongoing studies of the therapeutic use of cannabis including a clinical trial of cannabis for PTSD, and has worked clinically on trials of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Zach’s clinical focus is on the application of “third wave” mindfulness-based behavior therapies to address trauma, relationship conflict, and problematic substance use. 

Skills Gained

  • Collaborate with key stakeholders from around the province to discuss provincial efforts to treat and care for people with substance use disorders
  • Select the appropriate pharmacological and psychosocial treatment interventions based on the best evidence as well as individual patient needs, circumstances, and preferences
  • Provide safe and effective treatment to patients and their families throughout the induction, maintenance, and/or discontinuation process across the continuum of care for substance use disorders
  • Appreciate the complexity of substance use disorders, diversity of care, and providing access to evidence-based support services
  • Promote recovery, safety, wellness, and harm reduction to improve patient care and support for those with substance use disorders
  • Describe new evidence-based research findings and innovative implementation models from around the province


-Physician $350
-Allied Health (nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers, pharmacists, clinical counsellors) $250
-Resident/Student (proof of status required on-site) $99
-Health Authority Rep, Government $200

Registration includes: Thursday afternoon sessions and activities, Fri & Sat full day of presentations with breakfast, lunch and breaks
plus ONE ticket to the Awards Dinner & Presentation on Friday evening.

Cancellations and Refunds


JW Marriott Parq Vancouver
39 Smithe Street
V6B 0R3
Vancouver  British Columbia  V6B 0R3

Special conference rates: starting at $289 CDN/night for attendees available before Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Use direct booking link provided and click on "Make your Selection" and then ATTENDEE to receive access to the special rate. Taxes and parking are extra. Please note that rooms sell out quickly, and you may not get the conference rate if you book late. Current online rates for the Parq start at $649 a night, so our group rate is an exceptional deal.

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