New changes will allow physicians to spend more time with patients to address alcohol use

As of April 1st, British Columbia will be the first province in Canada to recognize alcoholism as a chronic medical condition. Provincial Health Minister Colin Hansen says: “It’s saying to family physicians that if they identify somebody that has a chronic alcohol problem, they can treat them in the same way they would treat complex illnesses.”

The change is one of the recommendations made by the BC Medical Association in 2009 in their report Stepping Forward: Improving Addiction Care in British Columbia. One of the 10 recommendations was to formally recognize addiction as a chronic disease and fund all medical care for addicted people accordingly: “Including addiction in BC’s current efforts to treat chronic disease would allow addiction-care health professionals to more efficiently utilize systems and structures already in place. These services range from existing collaborative care teams to education sessions for health professions, web sites, and data collection…Most importantly, it would send a strong message that BC is prepared to take a significant step to overcome the stigma attached to this pervasive medical disorder.”

Read more:

B.C. to be first in Canada to treat alcoholism as a chronic condition (Global BC, Richard Watts and Andrea Woo, Friday, March 11, 2011)

Stepping Forward: Improving Addiction Care in British Columbia (BC Medical Association, March 2009)