BC Medical Association Wins Award for Breakthrough in Addictions Care; Program Receives Canada-Wide Recognition

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 25, 2012) - The British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA) is the recipient of the Dr. Nancy Hall Public Policy Leadership Award of Merit for its advocacy work that resulted in the provincial government formally recognizing addiction as a chronic disease. Under guidelines and funding that came into effect April 2011, family doctors in BC have supports in place to better treat patients with addiction - specifically patients with an alcohol addiction.

It is estimated that one in 10 people in BC - about 400,000 individuals - has an addiction, which costs the government $6 billion a year. In 2009, the BCMA developed a policy paper titled Stepping Forward: Improving Addiction Care in BC, and led the collaboration with the Ministry of Health that introduced guidelines for screening patients for problem drinking. Funding for the new problem drinking initiative comes from the existing Mental Health planning fee developed by the General Practice and Services Committee (GPSC), a joint initiative of the BC Ministry of Health and the BCMA.

"The investment is cost-effective for taxpayers," said Dr. Shao-Hua Lu, a Vancouver psychiatrist who chaired the BCMA's Council on Health Promotion addiction project group. "We know that addiction starts early in youth and can lead to a number of chronic illnesses as people get older. These diseases may include diabetes, arthritis, and lung disease. Addiction also takes a toll on mental health and wellbeing. Early prevention can save patients from spiraling into despair, and has the potential to save taxpayers millions of dollars every year."

"Primary care is on the front line for people facing mental health and addiction challenges," said Judy Moore, Chair of CMHA BC's Board of Directors. "The BCMA has played a major role in improving care by leading the way in having addictions recognized as a chronic illness in BC. Like the BCMA, we at CMHA know there is more work to do and we look forward to forging an even stronger working relationship with the BCMA in the future."

A recent review conducted by the Ministry of Health examined 30 studies of clinical prevention services. The review concluded that alcohol screening and counseling is the third most effective preventative service physicians can offer patients, behind only smoking cessation and daily acetaminophen use.

The award was handed out by the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC) on September 21 and recognizes individuals or organizations that have influenced mental health policy in a positive way. The award honours the spirit of Dr. Nancy Hall, who recently passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. She acted as CMHA BC's key advisor and consultant for more than 15 years.

To read Stepping Forward: Improving Addiction Care in BC please visit:

To read the addiction guidelines, visit:

Contact Information:

BC Medical Association
Sharon Shore
Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations
604-638-2832 or 604-306-1866 (pager)