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Addressing Prescription Drug Misuse

​​​​​​​The harms associated with prescription drugs, such as opioids, stimulants, sedatives and tranquillizers, are a public health and safety concern that has reached crisis proportions in Canada. These harms are borne by individuals, families and communities, as well as by healthcare, social service and public safety systems. The issue has been identified as a priority for action by many organizations over the past decade.

National Dialogue on Prescription Drug Misuse

Progress in addressing prescription drug misuse was limited until the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) and its partners combined forces, with CCSA convening a National Dialogue on Prescription Drug Misuse in Ottawa early in 2012. At that meeting, CCSA rallied partners to renew their commitment to addressing this important national health and safety issue. CCSA also accepted the request to take the lead in developing and implementing a national strategy.

National Advisory Council on Prescription Drug Misuse

CCSA partnered with the Alberta Coalition on Prescription Drug Misuse and the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness to form a National Advisory Council on Prescription Drug Misuse (NAC), consisting of more than 30 diverse organizations with a clear stake in the issue. NAC includes representatives of healthcare practitioners (physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, medical examiners and coroners), regulators, patients and families, First Nations, law enforcement, the pharmaceutical industry, researchers and governments.

Collective action to implement the First Do No Harm strategy

NAC launched First Do No Harm: Responding to Canada's Prescription Drug Crisis on March 27, 2013. This 10-year pan-Canadian strategy lays out 58 recommendations to address the devastating harms associated with prescription drugs, and to help improve the health and safety of Canadian communities across the country.​

​The First Do No Harm strategy is in its implementation phase. CCSA has established implementation teams and is supporting their efforts across the country to carry out the recommendations. More than 50 individuals and organizations — all with a commitment to collective action to reduce the harms associated with prescription drugs — have begun in earnest to address recommendations across five streams of action:

  • Prevention

  • Education

  • Treatment

  • Monitoring

  • Surveillance and enforcement

Additional recommendations are associated with legislation and regulation, research and evaluation.


Share and align the work you are doing with the First Do No Harm strategy.



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