Date Published: 15 April 2014

Canada tackles prescription drug abuse

Health News from Canada
Health News from Canada.

Abuse of prescription drugs is not new or specific to any particular area or jurisdiction. In many situations the key issues are recognizing that there is a problem, identifying specific manifestations of prescription drug abuse, and implementing strategies to tackle them. The Canadian federal government has recently highlighted this as a growing problem that will be tackled 'head-on".

Mis-use of prescription drugs is a complex issue. Statistics quoted on the Canadian Government website include:

  • According to the 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS), approx. 410,000 Canadians reported abusing psychoactive pharmaceuticals in the past year, which is more than double the number for the previous year (2011).
  • 2012 statistics indicate that approx. 1 million youths, aged 15 to 24 years, reported having used a psychoactive pharmaceutical in the past 12 months.
  • Also according to the 2012 statistics, approx, 20% of the youths who reported use of a psychoactive pharmaceutical in the past 12 months also indicated having abused the substances.

In Canada addressing prescription drug abuse is a shared responsibility for which Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments have agreed to work together with civil society groups. The federal government has provided funding support to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA),

In its strategy document entitled "First Do No Harm: Responding to Canada's Prescription Drug Crisis" the CCSA explains that certain prescription drugs, such as opioids, sedative-hypnotics and stimulants, are associated with serious harm such as addiction, overdose and death. An overall strategy to tackle prescription drug abuse in Canada has been developed around five streams of action:

  1. Prevention
  2. Education
  3. Treatment
  4. Monitoring and Surveillance, and
  5. Enforcement

In addition to these five streams of action, three other areas deemed to affect all the streams be important for the overall success of the strategy are:

  1. Legislation and regulations
  2. Research, and
  3. Evaluation and performance measurement

According to Ben Lobb MP, Chair of the Gov. Standing Committee on Health:

" Canada has taken important steps to tackle prescription drug abuse. We encourage the Government to review the report recommendations and implement additional actions to address prescription drug abuse."

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose stated that:

" Our Government is committed to working with our partners to address prescription drug abuse. Together, we can tackle prescription drug abuse head on and make a difference."

This important issue is obviously being taken seriously in Canada. The outcome of the current strategy may hold important lessons that can also be applied elsewhere in the world.

Source: Health Canada (Government Info)

Also in the News:

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Calls to review antipsychotic drug prescriptions for dementia patients - 10 Jun '11

Warnings against certain uses of asthma drug terbutaline for preterm labour - 17 Feb '11

Anti-epilepsy drug risk on cognitive function for unborn children - 22 Jul '09

AMA calls for investigation of store-based health clinics (AMA) - 25 Jun '07

New guidance to help sufferers of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (UK) - 27 Jul '06

Call to prevent child poisonings - Griffith University, Australia - 9 Jul '06

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