Addiction is a Chronic Disease

… just like cancer or heart disease and it should be treated as such. So says the British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA), who are calling on the provincial government to recognize that addiction is a chronic disease and that it should be funded as such, as reported in a Vancouver Sun cover story today. After all, you wouldn’t ask someone with cancer to pay a per diem for their treatment, but that’s what we see with addiction treatment.

A few interesting (and staggering) facts about addiction (from the Sun article):

  • “In 2002, the estimated cost of treating substance abuse in B.C. was more than $6 billion, or $1,500 per person per year”
  • “one in 10 visits to Vancouver General Hospital’s emergency room is for substance abuse”
  • “B.C. uses enough hospital beds for substance abuse care to fill Kelowna General Hospital every day for a year.”

The story goes on to say that:

“Health Minister George Abbott said he agrees with the recommendations in the report, noting that the ministry is already looking at formally recognizing addictions as chronic diseases.”

and that the province is working on a 10-year mental health and substance abuse plan.  It is encouraging to see both the medical establishment and the provincial government recognizing the horrible toll that addiction takes, as well as the need to treat addiction as the chronic disease that it is.  I am eager to see what the 10 year plan will include and whether the government will put its money where its mouth is.

2 Replies to “Addiction is a Chronic Disease”

  1. Keep in mind that down south is still a union of states, few of which do not require non-elderly cancer patients to spend themselves into poverty before qualifying for public medical assistance. Even today, the future of U.S. medicine remains wildly uncertain. Perhaps something systematic and universal will become the law of the land at the start of 2010. Perhaps insurance companies will receive mountains of money while measures to improve availability are so underfunded as to barely qualify as pilot programs. So far our President has held on to many of his campaign promises, but he also seems to place undue trust in the integrity of American business leaders.

    On the lighter side, the regime change here and events on our own southern border have lots of very serious people finally speaking in very serious terms about movement from criminal justice responses to public health responses to chemical addiction. Still there is that distortion of balance — the notion that it would be unfair to issue without dignifying vague hysterics rooted in the false assumption that prohibitions effectively curtail vice participation. Even with that, the change is nice. Not only do we have the best shot at civilizing our medical economy in my lifetime, but we also have a real chance to give Libertarians a win by proxy in an area where radical freedom actually does coincide with practical sound public policy. I need to dig up my old Cypress Hill CDs now . . . ooh, and Phish rides again!

    Demonweed’s last blog post..What You Should Think About Balance

  2. I think this is great. My parents spent more on rehab for my brother than they did for my college education. Then, they also had to deal with his mental health (extreme panic attacks). It’s about time people realized that families can’t fix these problems by themselves (of course, I still live in the states, but maybe Canada will rub off on us).

    Stacia’s last blog post..Generations

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