HRI-CCSA partnership accelerates progress in addiction research and evaluation

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HRI is proud to partner with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA). Together, we’re closing knowledge gaps and advancing knowledge about substance use and addiction in Canada.

CCSA and HRI Partnership

CCSA was established in 1988 to provide non-partisan leadership on substance use and addiction. CCSA harnesses the power of research, diverse perspectives and new knowledge, advancing solutions to address alcohol and other drug-related harms.

In 2021, HRI and CCSA entered into a partnership, driven by a mutual interest in improving our understanding of substance use and supporting evidence-based services for people experiencing the harms of substance use and addiction. The partnership has added value to many aspects of HRI’s research, and generous funding from CCSA has propelled important work that stands to benefit many people in Canada who use substances.

Here, we share highlights and impacts of this partnership to date.

Closing knowledge gaps in cannabis research

In May 2021, HRI announced a new study exploring the effects of cannabis legalization on at-risk populations. This research was made possible by a $100,000 peer-reviewed grant through the Closing the Gaps/Partnerships for Cannabis Policy Evaluation initiative funded by CCSA using funds provided by Health Canada in support of cannabis research.

Dr. Jean Costello, Director of Evaluation at HRI, leads the study together with Dr. James MacKillop, HRI Senior Scientist and Peter Boris Chair in Addictions Research, Dr. Yelena Chorny, Chief of Addiction and Trauma Services at Homewood Health Centre, and Dr. Jennifer Brasch, Lead Psychiatrist in the Concurrent Disorders Program at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

The study was designed with input from clinicians and treatment providers to ensure that findings are relevant to practice and patient care. Researchers hope to provide a snapshot of the potential impact of cannabis legalization on people living with substance use disorder and concurrent disorders in clinical settings – an area previously underexplored by researchers. The available data will also enable researchers to examine relationships between cannabis use, other substance use, and psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and symptoms of trauma.

Expanding progress and outcome monitoring in Ontario

In 2015, HRI launched a system aimed at helping Canada measure progress and long-term outcomes among people who receive addiction treatment. HRI’s progress and outcome monitoring (POM) system is designed to measure health outcomes and quality of life after treatment. Developed in partnership with HRI’s founding funder Homewood Health, the POM system has also been implemented in programs focused on trauma, anxiety and depression.

Last year, a generous $35,000 donation from CCSA, along with the contribution of a part-time CCSA Senior Knowledge Broker, enabled a preliminary planning phase to extend the POM system to new sites in Ontario. Paired with a three-year funding commitment from KPMG Waterloo and the KPMG foundation, HRI is now poised to adapt the system to benefit additional populations.

We are pleased to announce that CCSA has renewed sponsorship funding for 2022 to maintain momentum on HRI’s POM system expansion across Ontario. We are grateful to CCSA for their support and continued involvement in this initiative.

Sharing knowledge to drive improvements in Canada

CCSA was a proud sector sponsor of an HRI Talk in November 2021 in which CCSA’s Chief Executive Officer, Rita Notarandrea, was a featured panelist. This virtual public conversation explored the value of measuring treatment progress and outcomes for people using mental health and addiction services.

Alongside two additional panelists, Rita contributed perspectives from her lengthy career in the mental health and substance use sectors. She shared insights about the importance of data-driven care, opportunities for system-level advances to help Canadians, and the value of collaboration in addressing ongoing substance use and mental health crises.

Looking forward

Collaboration is central to HRI’s mission. We are proud to be building and growing partnerships with organizations like CCSA that share our goal of advancing knowledge and progress that will benefit people in Canada and beyond.

Rita Notarandrea recently announced her retirement from her role as CEO with CCSA. We wish Rita all the best in her retirement and thank her for the remarkable impacts she has catalyzed in the substance use and mental health landscape. We look forward to our continued partnership with CCSA and the progress we will make together to benefit individuals living with mental illness and addiction.