Loading articles...

No specialized addiction treatment for Canadian doctors

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A new study out of UBC suggests doctors in the province, and the rest of Canada aren’t trained to deal with illnesses caused by drug and alcohol addiction.

Most people with sicknesses caused by addiction, aren’t able to get care from specialized doctors, says Dr. Evan Wood, one of the study’s authors.

“People who are taking care of patients with addiction, in almost all cases in British Columbia, haven’t gone through a standardized training program and that’s unique in our healthcare system.”

Wood, who practices at St. Paul’s Hospital, got his addiction training in the U.S. and says colleagues there, couldn’t believe a similar system doesn’t exist in Canada.

“In the medical community, when I tell my physician colleagues that we don’t actually train physicians in addiction medicine, they’re often stopped in their tracks and in disbelief,” says Wood.

He says that means new treatments and drugs are often overlooked and that a huge gap exists between the science behind addiction and the actual treatment.

Wood, who also holds a Canada Research Chair in Inner City Medicine, lists Naltrexone, a new drug that blocks the effects of opiate drugs like heroin, now available in the U.S. as an example.

“This is a drug that is unavailable in British Columbia because of the traditional lack of leadership in the addiction medicine community.”

But a new five-year program with St. Paul’s will see more than 20 doctors from the province get the specialized training.

“It’s going to help bring new research and new medications like this to British Columbia and help advance the system of care for patients with addictions.”

The St. Paul’s Hospital Goldcorp Fellowship in Addiction Medicine will provide fellowships over the next five years and will begin in July.