In recognition of National Addictions Awareness Week, November 17 to 21, Health Minister Terry Lake issued the following statement today:
“Addiction affects thousands of British Columbians each and every day, from all walks of life. The impact is felt not only by the people who are struggling with problematic substance use, but by their family and friends, employers and colleagues.
“Too often, we associate addiction with marginalized British Columbians, who live in busy urban centres, like Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. However, as we recognize National Addictions Awareness Week, it is important to acknowledge that substance use problems are not limited to one city or one group of people.
“Government is committed to providing the best supports for people facing challenges associated with substance use. That’s why the Ministry of Health has made it a priority to build a comprehensive system of mental health and substance use services throughout the province, making record investments totalling $1.38 billion annually. We invest in these services because we want to ensure all British Columbians have what they need to be fully engaged in our society and our economy.
“There are a wide variety of services available to reach those who become addicted. To reach the most vulnerable, a range of harm reduction services, such as needle exchanges, help prevent the spread of infections and overdose deaths. There are also targeted supports for the most severely addicted and mentally ill, like Assertive Community Treatment Teams - which seek out the most vulnerable people to provide the care they need, where they need it; and sobering centres, which provide a safe environment for individuals recovering from severe intoxication. To address the needs of this population, the province has recently announced over $20 million in new funding and completed a 120-day action plan in partnership with all provincial health authorities.
“We have also invested in supports to reach out to those who are facing mild or moderate substance use problems by providing $3 million to the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation to strengthen primary care support through enhanced treatment research, training and clinical care, partnering with Dr. Evan Wood, UBC professor and medical director of addiction services at Vancouver Coastal Health and St. Paul’s Hospital.
“That funding is helping to develop addiction medicine training throughout the province and includes developing an online addiction medicine program, as well as expanding the St. Paul’s Hospital GoldCorp Addiction Medicine Fellowship. Both of these programs are dedicated to leveraging the newest available information in the area of addictions treatment, and giving physicians additional tools to help prevent and treat addictions.
“We are already seeing the benefits - in 2014 alone, a total of 140 physician trainees will come through St. Paul’s Hospital’s addiction training programs. In addition, partially as a result of this expansion, the American Board of Addiction Medicine has indicated that this year will see the highest ever number of B.C. physicians attempting the board’s accreditation exam, making B.C. the province with the most addiction medicine specialists per capita - that is great news for patients and families seeking help.
“We are also investing in clinical research to identify new prevention and treatment modalities since we know that addiction and substance use problems are complicated and impact the lives of many British Columbians and their families, affecting their ability to participate fully in our economy and in their daily lives."
If you are looking to learn more about the addiction training program, visit: http://addictionmedicinefellowship.org
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)