As part of Alberta’s recovery-oriented system of care, the province is investing $4.5 million over three years to expand the award-winning Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP) to deliver more comprehensive support to youth and young adults in their pursuit of recovery.

VODP is an innovative program that provides treatment on demand for people struggling with opioid addiction. Through this program, any Albertan in any corner of the province can receive same-day access to opioid addiction treatment medication with no fees and no waitlist.

“Too many young Albertans continue to lose their lives to opioids. With this new funding, we’re helping more youth access evidence-based, compassionate care through the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program. These treatments are not only life-changing – they’re life-saving.”

Nicholas Milliken, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

“We are fully committed to protecting and helping vulnerable youth impacted by the opioid crisis. We need to do more to stop the increasing rates of opioid deaths in young Albertans receiving intervention services. Expanding this virtual opioid treatment program will improve their treatment outcomes and specifically reduce overdose deaths in young Albertans receiving intervention services.”

Mickey Amery, Minister of Children’s Services

With this funding, about 100 more youth and young adults will be able to access opioid addiction treatment every year. This includes a team of health professionals dedicated to supporting youth and young adults, especially those living in group care settings. The supports offered by this team will include rapid assessments, virtual treatment and ongoing care, recovery-oriented youth programming, peer supports, and parent, family and support worker education and training.

“Access to evidence-based treatment is key to helping people of all ages recover from opioid addiction. The Virtual Opioid Dependency Program has helped thousands of Albertans get the help they need, and adapting this award-winning program for youth is an important step we’re taking to support and protect young people in this province.”

Dr. Nathaniel Day, medical director, Virtual Opioid Dependency Program, Alberta Health Services

“The loss of youth due to the ongoing opioid crisis is a tragic reality, but one that we must not accept. We welcome the province’s investment to provide more youth with immediate access to critical support at whatever stage of recovery they are at. By leveraging proven tools, resources and approaches we can collaboratively address this crisis and save lives.”

Jeff Dyer, CEO, Trellis Society group care and youth housing provider

Expanding access to VODP in the group care sector was one of the actions noted in Alberta Children’s Services Review of Deaths of Children and Youth Receiving Child Intervention Services. It also aligns with recommendations from the Child and Youth Well-Being Panel and the September 2022 review from Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate, including that ministries work together to support vulnerable youth.

Alberta’s government is continuing to build a recovery-oriented system of care, where everyone struggling with addiction and mental health challenges has access to comprehensive services and supports. Alberta’s government has provided additional supports for youth through partnerships with the Kids Help Phone and by increasing access to classroom-based and community-based addiction and mental health supports for youth, supporting youth mental health hubs across the province and expanding 211 Alberta to provide all Albertans, including youth, with better and more seamless access to mental health and addiction recovery supports.

Quick facts

  • Funding for expanded VODP services will begin soon and expanded services will begin once staff are in place in early 2023.
  • VODP uses telehealth to provide addiction treatment to Albertans across the province, offering same-day access to addiction medicine physicians and evidence-based medications like Suboxone and Sublocade.
  • These expanded VODP services will be accessible by any youth and young adult in Alberta, but will place a focus on young Albertans living in:
    • Yellowhead Youth campus-based treatment centre (Edmonton)
    • Sifton campus-based treatment centre (Lethbridge)
    • High Prairie campus-based treatment centre (High Prairie)
    • Trellis Society group care and youth housing provider (Calgary)
  • The VODP can be accessed by calling 1-844-383-7688. The toll-free line is available seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. There is no waitlist for the program.
  • Tackling opioid-related deaths in young Albertans receiving intervention services supports recommendations from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate’s 2021 Renewed Focus report