From left to right, Lori Motluk, Izabela Szelest, Dr. Jeff Harries and Aaron McRann are spreading a message of hope with the formation of a new national non-profit, the Canadian Alcohol Use Disorder Society.(Submitted)

From left to right, Lori Motluk, Izabela Szelest, Dr. Jeff Harries and Aaron McRann are spreading a message of hope with the formation of a new national non-profit, the Canadian Alcohol Use Disorder Society.(Submitted)

Penticton physician launches national Alcohol Use Disorder research group

‘It’s at the heart of so many social issues like homelessness, domestic violence and unemployment’

A Penticton physician is taking his message and non-profit national.

Dr. Jeff Harries is hoping to share a message of hope with medical treatments for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) through the Canadian Alcohol Use Disorder Society he founded.

“There’s such a huge need out there,” said the society’s new board chair, Lori Motluk in a press release. “Clinicians are interested in learning about new treatments, and patients and families want to find out how to access them. We know it will take time for the information to reach everyone, but with the society, we’ve hit the ground running.”

The society will help spread Dr. Harries’ message about medical treatments, used in conjunction with counselling and other supports, and his call for a more compassionate understanding of Alcohol Use Disorder as a medical condition.

The society already has multiple projects in the works, including nationwide presentations to doctors, clinicians and community groups, educational video development, leadership training, healthcare improvements, research initiatives, patient engagement, and a new partnership with the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen.

“We jumped at the chance to partner with CAUDS because we know that alcohol dependence affects so many people from all walks of life,” said Aaron McRann, executive director of the SOS Community Foundation, in a press release. “AUD is at the heart of so many social issues like homelessness, domestic violence and unemployment. If we can address a root cause of these issues then maybe we can get out in front of the problems we keep funding every year.”

“Because Alcohol Use Disorder has only recently been understood as a chronic disease, the use of medications as an option to treat patients is also only beginning,” said Izabela Szelest, Canadian Alcohol Use Disorder Society executive director.

Currently, six medications are available that can ease withdrawal symptoms and provide freedom from cravings, allowing for the work of healing and recovery to take place. The medications most often only need to be taken for a few months.

“I’m thrilled CAUDS was created to continue spreading the news that AUD can be more successfully treated when certain medications are used temporarily along with counselling, peer support and reconnection to family and culture,” said Dr. Harries.

To learn more about the Canadian Alcohol Use Disorder Society, watch a short video about AUD, or to make a donation, you can visit their website at or follow them on Twitter @cauds_org.

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