One in 10 British Columbians are addicts, according to a report released Thursday by the B.C. Medical Association (BCMA).

Almost 400,000 people suffer from some form of addiction or dependence, researchers found. They looked at gambling, coffee and alcohol addiction as well as dependency on hard drugs.

Dr. Shao Hua Lu, lead author, said addiction should be recognized as a disease.

He and the BCMA want to add 600 new treatment beds and 240 detoxification spaces by 2012.

He said this will stop congestion at hospitals and allow detox “on demand.”

“These are currently two of the biggest gaps in addiction care in B.C.,” Lu said.

BCMA president Bill Mackie said once addiction is seen as a disease it will not only help people, but will save the province money.

“Substance abuse cost B.C. over $6 billion in 2002,” Mackie said. “Access to primary and intervention levels of care can reduce the stress and costs on the system further down the line.”


The Fraser Health Authority estimates that “by 2010, approximately 192,000 to 240,000 people will be in need of withdrawal management and/or treatment services for substance misuse.”