B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy speaks during an announcement at the site where a new mental health and addictions centre will be built, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy speaks during an announcement at the site where a new mental health and addictions centre will be built, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

B.C. creates first guideline in Canada for treating alcohol addiction

Guideline focuses on early prevention, including screening patients as young as 12 years old

B.C. will soon roll out out a first-in-Canada guide to help treat people with alcohol addictions in an effort to curb a rise in high-risk drinking in youth

Alcohol addiction is the most common substance use disorder in the province, according to the BC Centre on Substance Use. More than 20 per cent of British Columbians over the age of 12 are into heavy drinking, prompting calls for more early intervention.

The goal of the guideline is to bridge the gap between research and practice and to manage and treat high-risk patients.

“The health system has generally failed people who use alcohol,” Dr. Keith Ahamad, an addiction specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital who helped write the guideline, said at a news conference in Vancouver on Tuesday.

“The result is our hospitals and emergency rooms are filled with individuals suffering a range of consequences of alcohol addiction. We’re left managing the devastating effects rather than preventing and treating the addiction itself.”

Roughly 17,000 people died due to alcohol in 2017, according to the most recent data available from the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria. That’s up 2,000 deaths from 2013.

Ahamad said the guideline will help physicians, who are often the first point of contact for those concerned about their alcohol use, connect their patients to treatment more easily.

The resource also includes a focus on how doctors can improve early screening and intervention for youth as young as 12 years old, before any high-risk drinking becomes more serious.

“Traditionally, evidence-based treatment and recovery have not been well integrated and implemented into routine clinical care,” said Cheyenne Johnson, the substance use centre’s co-interim executive director.

ALSO READ: Dying Indigenous man alleges BC Transplant’s alcohol abstinence policy is racist

Health Canada considers low-risk drinking to be up to 10 drinks a week for women, limited to two drinks per day, and up to 15 drinks a week for men, limited to three drinks a day.

The guideline was created by a committee of 43 clinicians and researchers in B.C., as well as people with lived experience, and will be updated every three years.

Researchers will also create additional guideline components for Indigenous people and women who are pregnant.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross has been named critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy for the BC Liberals. (Black Press file photo)
Skeena MLA Ellis Ross named critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Previously, Ross was the critic for LNG, Resource Opportunities, and Responsible Development

Red sky in morning: an early-morning sunrise on May 16, 2020, captured just north of Kitimat. (Eric Roy photo)
Clare’s Corner: Hello, darkness, my old friend

Why does the after-work darkness affect you so much more as an adult than as a child?

(Corrado Colombo photo)
Corrado Colombo, with his wife, Lucy. Colombo is from Italy, but met Kitimat born-and-raised Lucy on one of his annual fishing trips to Kitimat in the early 2000s.
In Our Valley: Corrado Colombo

Corrado Colombo never expected that an annual fishing trip to Kitimat would change his life

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Harbour seals rest on log booms at Flavelle Mill in Port Hardy. With recent announcements the mill will be getting rid of the log booms, Dr. David Rosen sees an opportunity to study how the disappearance of this highly-frequented refuge for the seals will alter their behaviour in Burrard Inlet. (Photo supplied by David Rosen)
What the heck is going on with marine mamals in Vancouver waterways?

UBC researcher asks why they’re returning, and what role we’re playing

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism ‘widespread’

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Most Read