BC Medical Association

BC Medical Association

July 08, 2009 12:00 ET

Is Addiction a Disease or a Human Failure? Tell Us What You Think on Facebook

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - July 8, 2009) - What's your view: is addiction a disease or a human failure? The British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA) is hosting a Facebook discussion on this vital question.

Check out what other British Columbians are saying on the Facebook wall, and tell BC what you think.

An estimated 400,000 British Columbians (that's 1 in 10 of us) suffer from some form of addiction - about the same number with diabetes and cancer put together. Few other health issues have as far-reaching implications for our health care system and our community as a whole.

Despite the significant impact of addiction on this province, there are gaps in our system that result in people not getting appropriate levels of care when and where they need it. This may be the result of a lingering idea that addiction is not truly a medical disease, but rather a human failing.

Earlier this year, the BCMA, the association representing BC doctors, published an addiction report that asks the Province of BC to formally recognize addiction as a chronic, treatable disease under the BC Primary Health Care Charter and the BC Chronic Disease Management Program.

In that report the BCMA also recommended that addiction services in BC should be ramped up to reflect the need.

Consider that...

- People seeking addiction treatment are frequently turned away because of a lack of treatment beds and detox spaces

- As many as 1 in 10 visits to Vancouver General Hospital's emergency room is related to substance abuse

- The Fraser Health Authority estimates that by 2010 approximately 192,000 to 240,000 people will be in need of addiction services

- According to WorkSafeBC, people who abuse alcohol or drugs are five times as likely as their peers to file a workers' compensation claim. They are three times as likely to be absent from work or late to work.

- 11,750 British Columbians with severe addiction and/or mental illness are homeless. Between 2,000 and 4,000 of them are in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

- 18,759 additional adults with severe addiction and/or mental illness are at imminent risk of homelessness.

For this reason the BCMA is calling for:

- 600 new addiction treatment beds (self-contained units rather than simply beds)

- 240 new flexible medically-supervised detoxification spaces so that detox is available on demand.

We want to know what you think. Do you see addiction as a disease or a human failure? Should addiction be funded and treated as a disease? Visit this Facebook page to share your experiences, post your opinions, and see what others have to say.

Contact Information

  • BC Medical Association
    Sharon Shore
    Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations
    (604) 638-2832 or (604) 306-1866 (pager)
    Email: sshore@bcma.bc.ca
    Website: www.bcma.org