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Prescription narcotics strategy much needed, says Canada’s largest addiction treatment hospital

Toronto – August 27, 2010 - The Government of Ontario’s narcotics strategy will address the root causes of a significant and growing health problem – the inappropriate use of prescription opioids.  The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) welcomes the strategy announced by The Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.
“Everyday at CAMH we see the consequences of problematic use of prescription opioids, as more and more people are seeking treatment for opioid dependence,” said Dr. Catherine Zahn, CEO of CAMH, Canada’s largest teaching hospital for addictions and mental health.  “The Minister is committed to both improved treatment and to preventing the problematic use of opioids.”
The Minister unveiled her Government’s narcotics strategy in London earlier today.  The strategy includes a commitment to increased awareness of the risks of prescription narcotics, and legislation to enable far more effective tracking of prescribing and use of prescription opioids and other controlled substances.
“This is not a problem that can be solved overnight,” said Dr. Zahn.  “But the Minister’s strategy contains the key elements of a comprehensive solution: more and better drug information, improved professional and patient education, and high-quality treatment for those with dependence problems.”
CAMH population surveys have documented the increasing misuse of prescription drugs.  Research released last year indicates that prescription opioids are the third most widely used substance among young people, after alcohol and cannabis.  About 18% of students (grades 7 to 12) report using prescription opioids non-medically in the past year, representing 180,000 Ontario students.  The source for these drugs was overwhelmingly the students’ own homes.
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For further information and to arrange interviews contact: Michael Torres at (416) 595-6015 or email: media@camh.net
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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.  CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.
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