Addiction medicine

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 48, No. 2, March 2006, Pages 66-70 Letters

Addictive disease is widespread in Canada and the emotional and financial costs are enormous. Addiction causes a huge burden on society, leaving in its wake broken lives, broken families, and a disrupted society laced with profiteering and illegal activities. However, the societal problems that result from a lack of treatment services outweigh the economic costs of making affordable addiction treatment services available.

If all individuals with addictions in BC were able to access appropriate treatment services when they choose to seek help, the benefits would extend beyond the individual to improve the collective health of our communities.

There is a body of medical knowledge on addictions in this province, and I concur with Dr Oetter in her editorial “Addiction medicine is a specialty—let’s recognize it” [BCMJ 2005;47(10):526] that addiction medicine physicians need to be supported and recognized. These physicians should be compensated fairly when they provide readily accessible treatment services to all citizens as needed.

Conservative cost estimates in No Further Harm (1997), a document published by the BCMA Advisory Committee on Narcotics Harm Reduction, revealed that every dollar invested in addiction treatment would result in a fifteenfold return. This document espoused that addiction treatment constitutes a continuum of services that include primary prevention, harm reduction, and clinical intervention.

The BCMA Council on Health Promotion is interested in striking a new committee to review the area of addictive disease and, if appropriate, recommend system and policy changes for BC. BCMA members and others with knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating addictive disease who are interested in contributing to this committee may contact Ms Linda Munro at the BCMA.


Bill Mackie, MD
Chair, Council on Health Promotion

Bill Mackie, MD. Addiction medicine. BCMJ, Vol. 48, No. 2, March, 2006, Page(s) 66-70 - Letters.

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