Michael Krausz – Treatment of Addiction and Concurrent Disorders: Between Prohibition and Stigma (Federico)


According to Dr. Michael Krausz, the LEEF Leadership Chair in Addiction Research, chronic substance abuse and mental illness are of critical concern and pose significant challenges, especially when they are co-occurring. Dr. Krausz recently brought his international expertise in concurrent disorders – the dual diagnosis of mental illness and drug addiction – to the University of British Columbia to address the crisis in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where addiction, psychiatric illness and homelessness are rampant. Hailed as the poorest postal code in Canada, the Downtown Eastside is a microcosm of social problems where overdose and suicide are the leading causes of death.

At the “Neuroethics of Addiction” conference Dr. Krausz’s message was clear – treatment availability and access to those is need is seriously lacking in Vancouver. Dr. Krausz stated that he views the current situation as ethically problematic. For instance, he stressed that people with addiction and mental health issues have the highest unmet need for treatment but are often excluded from medical care, have increased rates of mortality and are amongst the most stigmatized and socially marginalized of groups. They suffer from many health-related burdens including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, suicide, addiction-related cancers and homelessness. Nevertheless, a general lack of  treatment and support is available. It it Dr. Krausz’s hope that the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS will serve as a model for the creation of a similar Centre for Excellence, to provide focused resources and structures to facilitate state of the art addiction and mental health research in Canada.

Dr. Krausz described the current situation in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside as being in “crisis mode” and lamented that emergency care is an insufficient reaction to the increasing needs of the community. He stated that part of the issue is the misconception that addiction is a moral issue – bad people making poor choices and until the public at large realizes that addiction is their problem too, no real change will take place.


1 thought on “Michael Krausz – Treatment of Addiction and Concurrent Disorders: Between Prohibition and Stigma (Federico)

  1. Krausz is correct in characterizing Vancouver’s eastside problem as being a ‘microcosm’ representative of a situation that is ethically problematic. Unfortunately, the realm of solution possibilities typically considered are government related or funded which, by their very nature, are similarly, ‘ethically problematic’. Inherent conflicts of interest are self evident. Funding is always an issue, never unrestrained without condition. There are often multitudes of ‘stakeholders’, all of which have their own, oftentimes competing, agendas or objectives.
    We need a paradigm shift. Krausz, regardless of his obvious intelligence, is only describing an all too well known problem. No news there. Nothing inspiring. Same old, same old.
    I’ve heard it said that ‘nothing changes if nothing changes’.
    When are we going to change?

    John Derry
    Director, A Home Away Retreat Inc.

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