Prevention Update

A unique update on what is happening in the world of drug abuse prevention.

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Assessing Knowledge Exchange Needs in the Canadian Mental Health, Addictions, and Substance Use Sectors

Dear colleagues,

If you work in and around the Canadian mental health, substance use, and addiction sectors, please consider participating in this survey. Please see below for the English and French messages.

Any questions can be directly communicated to Jessica Ticar, jessica [dot] ticar [at] gmail [dot] com

Zachary R. Patterson


We invite you to participate in a short survey about the knowledge exchange (KE) needs in the Canadian mental health, substance use, and addiction sectors.

Who should take this survey: We invite stakeholders in these sectors, including people with lived experience, practitioners and frontline workers, knowledge brokers, intermediaries, and researchers, with the opportunity to share their opinions about what actions should be taken to improve knowledge exchange.

The results will contribute to the development of the Knowledge Exchange Collaborative, a new initiative by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) to increase KE collaboration across various individuals and organizations to help move knowledge more quickly into practice in the mental health and substance use sectors across Canada. As well, survey results will inform future workshops and initiatives by MHCC and CCSA.


Nous vous invitons à répondre à un court sondage sur les besoins en échange des connaissances dans le domaine de la santé mentale, de l’usage de substances et des dépendances au Canada.

Qui devrait répondre à ce sondage?: Nous invitons les intervenants de tous ces secteurs ainsi que les personnes qui détiennent un savoir expérientiel, les praticiens, les travailleurs de première ligne, les courtiers du savoir, les intermédiaires et les chercheurs à nous transmettre leurs opinions au sujet des mesures à prendre pour améliorer l’échange des connaissances.

Les résultats contribueront au développement du Collectif d’échange des connaissances, une nouvelle initiative de la Commission de la santé mentale du Canada (CSMC) et du Centre canadien sur les dépendances et l’usage de substances (CCDUS) pour accroître la collaboration en matière d’échange de connaissances entre les différentes personnes et organisations afin de faire passer plus rapidement le savoir à la pratique dans le domaine de la santé mentale et de l’usage de substances partout au Canada. Les résultats du sondage viendront également éclairer les ateliers et initiatives de la CSMC et du CCDUS à l’avenir.


Improving Quality of Life: Substance Use and Aging

Improving Quality of Life: Substance Use and Aging, the latest report in the Substance Use in Canada series, provides a summary of the best available evidence on substance use among older adults.

Adults aged 55 and over represent the fastest growing subgroup of the Canadian population, and are estimated to account for approximately one-quarter of the Canadian population by 2036. As older adults continue to make up a larger proportion of the population, substance use among them will also continue to rise. It will become increasingly important to understand the needs of older adults and how the Canadian healthcare system can adapt to those needs. It is essential to develop strategies to promote healthy aging and take into account the impacts of substance use when planning for the future of the Canadian healthcare system.

Improving Quality of Life: Substance Use and Aging will give decision makers, policy makers, nurses, geriatricians, researchers and others working with older adults an opportunity to consider the evidence as they develop and employ more effective prevention and intervention programs aimed at addressing substance use among older adults. The objectives of this report were:

  1. To consider the impact of the aging population and the increases of problematic substance use among older adults on health outcomes, the Canadian healthcare system and healthcare expenditures;
  2. To identify gaps in our knowledge about the harms associated with substance use and their impacts on healthy aging to inform policy, practice and programs for older adults; and
  3. To summarize the best available evidence on effective ways to prevent, identify, assess and treat problematic substance use in the older adult population.

Some of the key findings from this report include:
• As the number of older adults in Canada increases, the number of older adults experiencing problems related to substance use is also expected to increase.
• Age-related changes in physiology render older adults more susceptible to experiencing harms associated with substance use.
• Older adults are often prescribed multiple medications and are more at-risk for the harms related to poly-substance use compared to other subgroups of the Canadian population.
• While older adults use substances less frequently than do younger adults, those who do use substances experience more harms associated with them compared to younger adults.
• To better support older adults, service providers need more evidence-informed resources tailored to the older adult population to prevent, detect, diagnose, assess and treat substance use among older adults.

Planned Release Date: March 2018

Knowledge Exchange Collaborative Webinar / Collectif d’échange des connaissances webinaire

Join our Upcoming Webinar / Assistez à notre prochain webinaire

Stakeholder Engagement / Mobilisation des intervenants

The Knowledge Exchange Collaborative is a joint initiative between the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA). The goal of this collaborative is to bring together people in the fields of mental health, substance use and addiction who are interested in learning more about knowledge exchange. As part of this collaborative, the MHCC and CCSA will be hosting a series of webinars to highlight and discuss key issues related to knowledge exchange.

Le Collectif d’échange des connaissances est une initiative conjointe de la Commission de la santé mentale du Canada (CSMC) et du Centre canadien sur les dépendances et l’usage de substances (CCDUS). Son but est de rassembler des intervenants de tous les secteurs liés à la santé mentale, à l’usage de substances et aux dépendances qui désirent en apprendre davantage sur l’échange de connaissances. Dans le cadre de ce Collectif, la CSMC et le CCDUS animeront une série de webinaires pour souligner et discuter des questions clés relatives à l’échange de connaissances.

Register Here / Inscrivez-vous.

Knowledge Exchange (KE) Collaborative

Sign up for the next KE Collaborative | Visit the KE Collaborative Webinar archive

December 19, 2020 - Webinar #1 – Stakeholder engagement

The Knowledge Exchange Collaborative is a joint initiative between the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA).

The goal of this collaborative is to bring together people in the fields of mental health, substance use and addiction who are interested in learning more about knowledge exchange. As part of this collaborative, the MHCC and CCSA will be hosting a series of webinars to highlight and discuss key issues related to knowledge exchange.

This first webinar will explore approaches to engaging stakeholders, an important part of knowledge exchange to effectively move research into policy and practice.

Register here

New interactive opioid tool: Explore opioid-related data in Ontario

Did you know that opioid-related emergency visits for 15–24 year olds in Ontario went up by 23% in just one year (2015 to 2016)? Is this true across Ontario? What are the statistics in your area?

Public Health Ontario recently released a new interactive online tool that allows you to explore data on opioid-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths in Ontario from 2003 to 2016. You can display trends across months or years and view the data according to the variables below:
• Age group and sex
• Public Health Unit or by Local Health Integration Network
• Type of opioid (death data only)

The tool allows figures, maps and data to be downloaded from the site. You can use this tool to better understand opioid harms in your jurisdiction and help inform prevention and early intervention programming.

To learn more about opioid trends across Canada, revisit our post, Assessing the Harms of Opioids, which outlines some of the key findings from Hospitalizations and Emergency Department Visits Due to Opioid Poisonings in Canada, a collaborative report from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

For information on how to use the opioid tool, you can access the webinar, Overdose Monitoring and Response for Ontario, hosted by the Provincial System Support Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on their Opioid Resource Hub.

Youth Engagement Strategies for Mental Health and Substance Use Interventions

Youth are an important population for prevention and early intervention efforts, as many adult mental health and substance use disorders emerge during the adolescent years. Strategies to engage youth are key to successful prevention and intervention efforts. A new review by Canadian researchers, Dunne, Bishop, Avery and Darcy (2017), published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, analyzed youth engagement strategies used during mental health and substance use interventions. The researchers reviewed 40 studies and reports published between 2004 and 2014 that described engagement strategies used with youth aged 11 to 29 years to improve mental health and substance use outcomes. Their analyses led to six overarching themes for youth engagement:
1) Youth empowerment through participation in program development
• Examples: filling out feedback surveys, becoming peer support workers, participating in program design, implementation and evaluation, sitting on boards or committees
• Possible outcomes: development of coping and professional skills, improved relationships with clinicians, greater recovery focus, decrease in substance use

2) Engagement through parental relations
• Examples: strengthening parent-child relationship, increasing positive parental behaviours, supporting parents to advocate for their child’s care, family interventions
• Possible outcomes: engagement in treatment, reduced risky behaviours, reduced substance use

3) Engagement through technology
• Examples: computer-, texting- and Internet-based interventions (easy access, low costs, confidentiality and anonymity)
• Possible outcomes: reduced symptoms for depression, anxiety, stress, post-traumatic stress, first episode psychosis and eating disorders; engages traditionally hard to reach youth (e.g., adolescent males, marginalized youth, youth not attending school or living in remote areas)

4) Engagement through medical or mental health clinic
• Examples: housing clinics within schools, increasing accessibility of location, communication and spaces geared towards youth, flexibility, diverse services, continuity of care, privacy, including family in treatment
• Possible outcomes: increased seeking of help

5) Engagement through school
• Examples: increasing student connectedness with school and teachers, screening at schools to help identify at-risk youth
• Possible outcomes: lower use of substances, lower emotional distress and suicide-related thoughts or attempts

6) Engagement through social marketing
• Examples: social media campaigns (most effective when included as part of an integrated intervention strategy)
• Possible outcomes: reduced stigma, less substance use, changed beliefs about alcohol, increased skills in reducing alcohol-related harms

The main conclusion from this review was that there is no single method of engagement that is most effective, and successful mental health and substance use interventions likely involve a combination of strategies that is shaped by local needs, goals and resources. Ideally, youth should be involved in the design and implementation of interventions and programs should address any barriers to participation. For more information, please see the review article.

Reference Dunne, T., Bishop, L., Avery, S. & Darcy, S. (2017). A review of effective youth engagement strategies for mental health and substance use interventions. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60(5), 487–512.

New Federally Funded Projects for Prevention, Screening and Surveillance to Address FASD

On May 5, 2017, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced $3.6 million in federal funding for five projects that will advance prevention, screening and surveillance for alcohol use during pregnancy.

In Canada, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) affects 8 in 1,000 children, and it is estimated that 1 in 13 women who drink alcohol while pregnant will have a child with FASD (Lange et al., 2017). The five projects described below are funded to help improve outcomes for people affected by FASD; increase awareness and understanding of FASD; coordinate access to tools, resources and expertise; and address gaps in prevention and support.

Project descriptions:

  1. Use screening, training and data to help healthcare providers better identify and work with women at risk for alcohol use during pregnancy (Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada)

  2. Train clinicians on updated Canadian FASD diagnostic guidelines and increase the number of settings that screen women for alcohol use (e.g., mental health and addiction, homeless shelters) (Canada FASD Research Network)

  3. Identify and share best practices and approaches for screening and discussing alcohol use with women (BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health)

  4. Evaluate FASD prevention programs that target women at risk of having a child with FASD and identify key elements that lead to positive change (Nota Bene Consulting Group)

  5. Develop a multi-source surveillance system for FASD and prenatal alcohol exposure across Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Yukon (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)

Read more about the projects here and contact the lead organizations for more information.

To learn more about substance use during pregnancy, read the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction’s 2013 Substance Abuse in Canada report, Licit and Illicit Drug Use during Pregnancy: Maternal, Neonatal and Early Childhood Consequences.

Also see related prevention updates:
* Supporting Pregnant Women Through Substance Abuse
* Cannabis and Maternal Use during Pregnancy

Lange, S., Probst, C., Gmel, G., Rehm, J., Burd, L., & Popova, I. (2017). Global prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder among children and youth: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics. Advance online publication.

Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario: Webinar for service providers

September 12, 2020 at 12:00PM to 1:00PM EDT

"The province of Ontario is committed to improving services for young people through the creation and support of integrated youth service hubs. These ‘youth wellness hubs’ will be places where young people aged 12-25 can receive walk-in, one-stop access to mental health and addictions services, as well as other social and employment supports, all under one roof.

Join us for a webinar for service providers to learn more about the Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) initiative, including:

  • What are integrated youth service hubs?
  • What evidence exists to support this model of service delivery?
  • How are hub locations being selected in Ontario?
  • How can people apply to get a youth wellness hub in their community?

This presentation will be followed by a Q&A session, and will also provide an opportunity for service providers to give feedback on the YWHO initiative and to share their knowledge about integrated youth services already in place in Ontario."

Register here:

Third International Symposium on Drug-Impaired Driving

"​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Third International Symposium on Drug-Impaired Driving is a collaborative effort between the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse and the New Zealand Drug Foundation.

This international symposium will put the spotlight on key developments relevant to road safety in recent years and highlight the implications of these developments for drug-impaired driving. The objective of the symposium is to bring together key stakeholders who have advanced the field to share their experiences and lessons learned and to develop next steps to effectively address drug-impaired driving. The symposium will offer participants the opportunity to learn about the latest developments in the field, highlight new research and identify gaps still needing attention."

For more information:

Beyond Labels: 2017 Human Rights Symposium

"The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s 2017 symposium will challenge our thinking, our behaviour and the labels we use for each other and ourselves, setting the foundation for discussions about human rights over the next 40 years. Join human rights advocates, academics, employers, lawyers, and engaged citizens from across the country as we explore the future of human rights beyond labels as it relates to technology, our institutions, our workplaces, and our public spaces."

Please note that simultaneous interpretation will be available during all plenary panel discussions, in English and French. The concurrent workshops will be held in both official languages, depending on the individual language choice of the moderator or panelist. During these workshops, participants will be able to ask questions in the language of their choice and a designated person will translate the exchange if the need arises.

Find out more information here: