Critics say there are not enough drug treatment beds for youth in B.C.

WATCH: New numbers show drug treatment beds for young addicts in B.C. are down by as much as 25 per cent in recent years. As John Hua reports, critics say the delays amount to a death sentence.

Imagine wanting to get clean only to be told you have to wait.

Critics say that is exactly what is happening to a growing number of young people seeking drug treatment.

The surge of fentanyl use has been called a crisis. But NDP addictions critic Sue Hammell said the government has failed to live up to a campaign promise of 500 substance abuse beds.

“Those beds have not been delivered,” she said. “In fact, we have not even gotten to half of them and we’re about eight months out from another election.”

The Ministry of Health’s own data show the number of youth substance abuse beds in B.C. has dropped from 118 three years ago to 89, a decrease of 25 per cent.

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“I had been talking to parents who are desperately trying to get their kids into substance abuse beds and give them a path to get away from addiction,” Hammell said.

The government says drug-addicted youth can find treatment through increased mental health spots, but even if you account for those five extra spaces there’s still a total net loss of 24 beds.

“When we closed The Crossing at Keremeos because we had concerns about the operator, that immediately took some beds offline,” Health Minister Terry Lake said. “But we’ve already announced the reopening of The Crossing next year in 2017.”

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Michelle Jansen, who lost her son to an overdose last year, says she has heard countless stories of youth needing timely, long-term drug treatment right now.

“There was a minimum four-to-six month waiting list unless their family had $50,000 to put her in a private treatment facility, which was not viable,” she said.

– With files from John Hua