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CAMH selected as part of new national network to tackle prescription drug abuse and addiction

New cross-Canada research initiative to identify and implement effective treatments for Canadians living with substance misuse, including prescription drug abuse 

(TORONTO) May 1, 2015 – The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is the Ontario lead of a new national network that will identify and implement effective treatments for Canadians with substance misuse.

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose today announced the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM), a national research network aimed at improving the health of Canadians living with prescription drug abuse, addiction and substance misuse. Prescription drug abuse is a significant public health and safety concern in North America. Drugs like opioids, sedative-hypnotics and stimulants are legal and have proven therapeutic benefits, but they also have a high potential for harms such as addiction, withdrawal, injury, and death. 

Led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), CRISM represents a $7.2 million investment by the Government of Canada. Four research teams are part of the network. Dr. Benedikt Fischer, Senior Scientist at CAMH, is leading the Ontario team of researchers, service providers and individuals who have lived with substance misuse. The three other sites are for Quebec-Maritimes (Université de Montréal), Prairie (University of Alberta) and British Columbia (University of British Columbia). 

As part of the expanded focus of the National Anti-Drug Strategy to address prescription drug abuse, the Government of Canada has committed an additional $5 million over five years to further support research on new clinical and community-based interventions for preventing and treating prescription drug abuse.

“Prescription drug abuse and addiction is a significant public health concern across Canada. Today we are announcing four new research projects that will work to find solutions for those struggling with prescription drug abuse, addiction and substance misuse. Keeping Canadian families healthy and safe is of great importance for me and our Government. This research as well as other initiatives support prevention, treatment and recovery from drug and substance abuse, and help those affected to lead healthier lives,” says Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health.

CRISM brings together four large teams that will identify interventions and programs that are:

  • Tailored to individuals; 
  • Applicable in clinical and community intervention settings; and
  • Quickly and easily implemented by health service providers and users.

Together these teams will work to ensure the transfer and implementation of evidence-based approaches to reduce the negative effects of prescription drug abuse, substance misuse and addiction, including overdose and death. These approaches may include one-on-one counselling or group therapy for patients and their families. They will also study how these interventions can be successfully implemented in the local or regional setting. 

“Substance misuse is a pressing and complex health issue that requires strong collaboration between researchers, service providers and representatives of those living with this challenge. We are confident that the initiative announced today will lead to new evidence-based approaches that can be implemented across the country in a more personalized manner and lead to better health outcomes,” said Dr. Anthony Phillips
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction.

Quick Facts

  • The four CRISM teams are based in different regions of the country: British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario and Quebec (including the Maritimes). Each team will perform research on substance misuse that is aligned with their respective provincial/territorial health systems.
  • The 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS) indicates approximately 410,000 Canadians reported abusing psychoactive pharmaceuticals in the past year, more than double the number in 2011.
  • In 2012, about 1 million youth, aged 15 to 24 years, reported having used a psychoactive pharmaceutical in the past 12 months. About 210,000 of these youth also reported having abused them.
  • National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day is Saturday, May 9, 2015. Canadians are encouraged to drop off unused, unwanted and expired prescription drugs at designated locations in their community to ensure safe disposal and prevent the misuse of prescription drugs. 

About CAMH

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 help 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. For more information, please visit www.camh.ca.

For further information:

Media Contact: Kate Richards, Media Relations, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 416-535-8501 ext. 36015, media@camh.ca​

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Dr. Benedict Fischer
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