The Heartwood Centre for Women, located in Vancouver, is a 30-bed residential facility that provides integrated treatment for women (19+), including trans women, across British Columbia who struggle with severe substance use and mental health challenges.
Treating addiction means treating the whole person—not just the substance use. We know that mental illness, trauma and stigma are often linked to addiction. When we consider the root cause of why people use substances, we can better help them get well.
Research shows that experiences during people's formative years, including trauma, can predispose someone to addiction. For women in particular, significant trauma, including sexual trauma, can often lead to serious substance use as a way of coping with the emotional, physical and psychological pain.
At Heartwood Centre for Women, we treat your addiction using a whole-person approach, addressing your substance use, mental illness, chronic health conditions, triggers, histories of trauma, and more. Care is evidence-based, which means it is informed by research.
Staff and physicians draw heavily from
trauma-informed practice, meaning they will work to make sure you feel safe, secure, and supported throughout your time in the program.
We believe that people, when properly supported, have the strength and resiliency to manage their lives. This is why we focus on your strengths rather than solely on your symptoms and problems. You are a key member of your treatment team. Treatment is not happening to you—it is happening
with you, and you are actively participating.
We will develop a customized care plan for you based on your needs, challenges and history. Heartwood is a 90 day program.
Your care team includes the following health care professionals:
- Addictions medicine specialist
- Nurse practitioner
- Clinical social worker
- Recreational therapist
- Art therapist
- Music therapist
- Indigenous care coordinator
You will begin the program with stabilization and assessment, which usually takes two weeks. You'll work with your treatment team to set goals, which may include the following:
- Managing withdrawal from substance use
- Identifying and treating medical and mental health issues
- Developing stable daily routines
- Learning to live in a community
- Developing healthy sleep and hygiene habits
- Learning to engage in structured programming
If you smoke, as part of your stabilization and assessment, we will work with you to develop a plan to decrease your use of tobacco while moving toward abstinence. Part of this plan will include attending a smoking cessation group, which will continue throughout your treatment. Nicotine replacement therapy such as the nicotine patch and gum will be available to you.
Other elements of the stabilization and assessment stage may include the following:
- Orientation sessions
- Early recovery groups
- Nutrition consultations and groups
- Appointments with a physician
- Management of chronic pain
- Pre-treatment groups
- Twelve-step meetings
- Spiritual care
- Recreational activities and outing
You'll spend the next 10 weeks at the Heartwood Centre for Women participating in intensive and structured addiction and mental health treatment to support your recovery journey.
It will include groups and activities on several key topics:
- Substance use
- Women's wellness issues
- Mental wellness and substance use
- Spirituality and recovery
- Enhancing your motivation
- Smoking cessation
- Mindfulness skills
- Relapse prevention
- Emotional regulation
- Indigenous talking circle
- Indigenous medicine wheel
You'll also be able to participate in the following activities to help you develop wellness skills as well as different methods of coping with symptoms, cravings and difficult feelings:
- Peer support meetings
- Expressive art therapy
- Group and individual counselling
- Nutrition groups
- Recreational and fitness activities
- Family programming, which we encourage your family members to attend
Occasional substance use relapses are often part of people's recovery journeys and are not a sign of failure. If you experience a relapse and would like to continue your treatment at the Heartwood Centre for Women, we will work with you.
Some activities include escorted outings outside the facility. These escorted activities, which you'll discuss with your counsellor and recreational therapist, are part of your treatment plan. Over time, when you and your treatment team decide it is safe for you, you will be able to leave the site without an escort. Before leaving on an unescorted pass, your treatment team will ensure that you have a safety plan.
Treatment at the Heartwood Centre for Women is only part of your recovery journey. We'll work with you and your local health authority to make sure you continue to receive the care and support you need after completing your treatment.
The Heartwood Centre for Women is for women from across B.C., including trans women, over 19 who live with severe substance use challenges. The program is designed for those who have experienced several relapses, and whose treatment needs are beyond what local community health resources or health authority can offer.
To receive treatment at the Heartwood Centre for Women, you need a
referral from a health care professional.
Treatment at the Heartwood Centre for Women is voluntary. You may be admitted to the program on leave from another care facility.
Research shows that people are most likely to stay in recovery when they are supported by a family member or loved one. We encourage you to stay connected to your loved one. We will involve you in their treatment as we are able.
You're welcome to attend the family group program called Understanding Addiction with your loved one every Sunday at the Heartwood Centre for Women. Contact us for details.
Visiting hours are on Sunday afternoons or by special arrangements, depending on the visitor (children may have more frequent visits). Contact us to make arrangements.