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Government of Canada invests in research to tackle prescription drug abuse and addiction

by NationTalk on May 1, 2015777 Views

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

May 1, 2015 – Edmonton, Alberta – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, 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 over five years from the Government of Canada. 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.

CRISM brings together four large teams composed of researchers, service providers, and representatives of people living with substance misuse. These teams 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.

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.
  • Minister Ambrose made the announcement at the Addiction Recovery and Community Health clinic at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton.
  • The Government of Canada invests approximately $130 million a year to address addictions and drug abuse in Canada under the National Anti-Drug Strategy. These funds contribute to developing tangible and effective solutions to the problems of drug addiction.
  • In the 2013 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada made a commitment to expand its National Anti-Drug Strategy to include prescription drug abuse with more than $44 million over five years to support work in this area, including $5 million to support additional research on prescription drug abuse through CIHR.
  • Between 2006 and 2013, CIHR invested approximately $4 million to support research in the area of prescription drug abuse.
  • 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.
  • In addition to today’s announcement, the Government of Canada also recently announced an investment of $13.5 million over five years to enhance access to addictions support, prevention and treatment capacity for prescription drug abuse for First Nations living on-reserve across the country.
  • The Government of Canada has launched a national marketing campaign which equipped parents with the information and tools needed to talk with their teenagers about the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse and marijuana use.
  • 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.


“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.”

– Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health

“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.”

– Dr. Anthony Phillips, Scientific Director, Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

“We are setting a precedent for regional collaboration across the Prairies. Our goals are quite simple. We want to create trusting working relationships among CRISM affiliates and develop accessible resources for substance misuse interventions that are of value to service providers, policy makers and consumer advocates alike.”

– Dr. Cameron Wild, Researcher, University of Alberta

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Associated links


Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research


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