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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Addictions Program launches the Alcohol Research and Treatment Clinic

The burden of alcohol use costs the Canadian economy an estimated $1Billion per year in healthcare services and lost productivity. CAMH is constantly working towards new research and more effective treatment to help people with alcohol use problems.

As part of the Addictions Medicine Clinic, the Alcohol Research and Treatment Clinic (ARTC) brings together an inter-professional team of physicians, nurses and specialized therapists to improve access to pharmacotherapy for the treatment of alcohol dependence. Led by Dr. Bernard Le Foll​, the clinic also includes research and evaluation components to find new evidence-based treatment strategies that will inform delivery of care at CAMH, throughout the province and beyond.

“More than half of the clients coming into the Addictions Program at CAMH list alcohol as their primary reason for seeking treatment,” said Bernard. “Our clinic will provide client-centered, comprehensive and holistic treatment ranging from therapy to relapse prevention.”

ARTC provides the three main specialized services:

All clients receive a Comprehensive Assessment by an inter-professional team that includes both a psychosocial and medical component. At the time of assessment, the MD recommends the most appropriate setting for withdrawal management and provides options for follow up care.

When appropriate, Out-patient medical withdrawal management along with individual counseling is provided to clients. This is a highly effective combined strategy for the management of alcohol withdrawal symptoms and cravings that avoid reducing the need for hospitalization. Clients in need of in-patient withdrawal management are referred to the Medical Withdrawal Services at CAMH.

Comprehensive and holistic treatment plans are customized for each client and include psychosocial support, case management and concurrent treatment for mood and/or anxiety disorders and nicotine dependency where appropriate. Pharmacotherapy for relapse prevention combined with professional therapeutic counseling is offered to appropriate clients. ARTC is currently using approved pharmacotherapies (disulfiram, naltrexone and acamprosate) and second lines therapies (baclofen and topiramate).

Education and research also play a vital role in ARTC. “There are a variety of options for people struggling with alcohol use, pharmacotherapy being one,” said Dr. Le Foll. “Currently only a fraction of subjects with alcohol dependence have access to pharmacotherapies for alcohol dependence. We are training clinicians in the proper use of these medications so that more clients are able to get the most effective treatment.”

ARTC is also evaluating medications and interventions to develop better treatment for clients. Through clinical trials scientists will have a better understanding of how medications act in certain populations. Integration of imaging and genetics to the projects that are underway at ARTC will accelerate the move towards providing personalized medicine.

For more information, please visit the ARTC webpage​​​​​

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