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Current Year Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Tackling Canada’s opioid crisis: help for patients and care providers

​A new treatment study for people with opioid addiction, and evidence-based treatment guidelines for health professionals

TORONTO, March 5, 2018 – Two national initiatives involving CAMH aim to improve treatment for people with opioid addiction.

For health care providers, a new Canadian guideline for managing opioid use disorders lays out optimal strategies for treatment. To improve patient care, CAMH is heading the Ontario site of a national clinical trial for prescription opioid use disorder.

The treatment guideline, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) was created to address an urgent need for evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder. It outlines best practices, as well as practices to avoid.

“Through the OPTIMA clinical trial, we are investigating how patients respond to different treatment for prescription opioid use disorder in real-world settings, with the goal of improving treatment outcomes and decision-making for patients and health care providers,” says Dr. Bernard Le Foll, Head of the Translational Addiction Research Laboratory in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH.  “Opioid addiction can be treated, and we encourage people to seek help if they need.”

Both are initiatives of the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM), a national network funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). CAMH is the hub for the Ontario CRISM node.

In Canada, opioid overdoses now account for more deaths than automobile accidents. In 2016, the rate of opioid-related deaths in Canada was 7.9 per 100 000 (a total of 2,861 deaths), and the number of deaths continues to increase. The opioid epidemic affecting both Canada and the United States is fuelled by a combination of overprescribing as well as the influx of highly potent illegal synthetic opioids, such as illicitly manufactured fentanyl, notes the CMAJ.

Two of the most widely available treatments, methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone (trade name Suboxone), are a focus of both the guideline and the seven-site OPTIMA trial (which stands for Optimizing Patient Centred Care: A Pragmatic Randomized Control Trial Comparing Models of Care in the Management of Prescription Opioid Misuse).

As part of the OPTIMA trial, investigators will evaluate real-world treatment conditions, including patient preference for short-term versus long-term treatment with medication, and support patient-centered approaches informing decision-making processes.


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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 its field. 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 follow @CAMHnews and @CAMHResearch on Twitter.

To arrange an interview please contact:

Sean O'Malley, CAMH Senior Media Relations Specialist

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