When Dr. Evan Wood looks for addiction specialist like himself in B.C., he sees a huge gap.
“We don’t train addictions doctors in British Columbia,” he said. “If you have chest pains or any other kind of medical condition, you’ll be seen in a hospital by an expert who has training in that area.” But those coming in with addiction problems don’t have an expert to see them, he said.
Wood, who is a professor of medicine at UBC, recently secured a $3 million donation from Vancouver-based mining company Goldcorp that will be used to train 20 doctors in addictions medicine.
For much of his career, Wood has focused on developing treatment strategies for patients with HIV. He was the lead author of the first study to show that HIV treatment could prevent the transmission of the disease among injection drug users.
Wood was one of the principal investigators of Insite, Canada’s first safe injection site, and has co-authored studies on the effectiveness of the facility in reducing overdose deaths. He is also the founder of Stop the Violence BC, a coalition that advocates for marijuana to be taxed and regulated.
“Throughout my work in this area was a real concern with the problems created by drug and alcohol addiction,” he said. “That includes the spread of HIV but also some of the community safety issues that come from treating addiction as a criminal justice issue.” •