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Increasing hospitalizations linked with alcohol use in Canada

Last Updated Jun 12, 2019 at 3:28 pm PDT

(Source: iStock)

Dr. Keith Ahamad says alcohol is often a factor in fatal overdoses

Federal data showing increased hospitalizations linked with alcohol use indicate it's a big problem

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Canadian Institute for Health Information has released data showing alcohol-related health concerns cause more than half of all hospitalizations compared with other substances, and are 13 times more common than for opioid poisonings.

Dr. Keith Ahamad, who specializes in addictions treatment, says it’s a big problem, but there aren’t enough treatment options available for people struggling with addiction. 30 to 40 per cent of people dying of overdoses in British Columbia are also positive for alcohol use.

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“On a chart review in Vancouver Coastal Health has shown that a significant proportion of people are actually not opioid addicted,” he says. “It’s alcohol that is their drug of choice, they’re drinking alcohol daily and using opioids intermittently and we’re doing nothing for their alcohol-use disorder.”

Ahamad says the situation is certainly concerning here in B.C., but also across the country.

“They’re cutting public health in Ontario, they’re cutting social programs and they’re increasing access to alcohol,” he says. “It’s a recipe for disaster.”

The provincial government in Ontario is currently pushing for alcohol sales in corner stores, after recently approving beer and wine sales in grocery stores.

Ahamad argues more treatment options are necessary to help those with alcohol-use issues.