Building Bridges, not Road Blocks, Alberta’s Virtual Opioid Dependency Program.

Dr. Nathaniel Day

April 12 th 2022 11:30 am Bannerman Walker Room

Session Description

Alberta is an innovation leader in improving access to opioid dependency treatment. Alberta’s Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP) is a publicly administered Alberta Health Services program and has been designed to reduce barriers to care.

Today anyone in Alberta who is using street opioids like fentanyl can receive same day treatment. Anyone in Alberta receiving care in corrections, halfway houses, detox, rehab centers, hospitals or emergency departments can be referred to VODP for ongoing or transitional care.

For too long, access to safe and effective treatment has been limited by the person’s proximity to rare bricks and mortar addictions clinics. Thanks to technology, the barrier of geography no longer needs to stop people from accessing recovery. Alberta’s VODP has provided treatment in over 250 different communities. Currently VODP is helping an average of 290 new clients per month.

Alberta’s VODP utilizes new tools to help people achieve the results they want. Long-acting medication options increase the ability to complete treatment when appropriate. We ensure that every client in VODP has access to a multidisciplinary team with Addictions Counselors, Social Workers, Therapists and Psychiatric Nursing support. We want our clients’ lives to revolve around life and recovery not our program or the pharmacy.

Alberta’s Virtual Opioid Dependency Program is dedicated to collecting and reporting results. This focus on data ensures that innovation and change are always focused on results for our clients. So far, we see improvements in clinical outcomes including reduced drug use, reduced overdoses, reductions in hospital and emergency department utilization, improved social functioning including recovery of social and family roles. We are pleased to report high client satisfaction with the program.

Alberta’s model of rapid access to evidence-based treatment can be replicated.

Learning Objective

Opioid Dependency Treatment should be accessible and focused on client outcomes

Technological innovation, including video, phone and text should be used to increase access to care. Client results from virtually-delivered care in VODP are positive.

Addiction treatment providers can embrace data collection to ensure that services are delivering the needed results.


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Dr. Nathaniel Day received his medical education at the University of Alberta, entering practice in 2007. He subsequently received his American Board of Addiction Medicine Certification in 2010. Dr. Day has spent his career working with clients who live with addiction and mental health challenges. He is the medical director of the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury and is the medical director of Alberta’s Virtual Opioid Dependency Program.
Under Dr. Day’s medical leadership the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program was piloted, implemented and expanded. The program and Dr. Day were awarded the Health Quality Council of Alberta’s (HQCA) Patient Experience Award in 2020. Earlier this year the program received national recognition as a Leading Practice for addiction treatment by the Health Standards Organization (HSO).