Prescription Drug Abuse

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Prescription drug abuse (PDA) — intentionally taking medication for reasons other than those prescribed — is considered a growing public health crisis in Canada. With support from Health Canada, CIHI is developing a coordinated pan-Canadian approach to PDA monitoring, surveillance and reporting.

Initially, we are focusing on 3 drug classes: opioids, benzodiazepines and stimulants.

Enhancing PDA data through collaboration

We're working with a variety of federal, provincial/territorial and other stakeholders such as the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, poison control centres, chief coroners and law enforcement to

  • Identify data and information needs
  • Develop pan-Canadian standards to guide PDA data collection
  • Create related indicators and measures for public reporting
  • Publish public reports with PDA data and indicators
  • Produce resources to support understanding and use of PDA data and information

PDA information in CIHI's data holdings

CIHI already has data from across Canada’s health systems that can support PDA research in areas such as risk factors; drug monitoring and surveillance; resource use; and program, policy and intervention outcomes. Find out what we have available:

Note about terminology

“Prescription drug abuse” is the term most commonly used at present, but newer terms such as “problematic pharmaceutical drug use and harms” are emerging as a way to avoid the stigma of the term “abuse.” CIHI is engaged in discussions on appropriate terminology.

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