Moving Toward a Systematic Understanding of Addiction Care

In 2016, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) partnered with the National Recovery Advisory Committee to conduct the first Canadian survey of people in recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Modeled after Life in Recovery (LIR) surveys previously conducted in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, CCSA’s LIR study engaged 855 individuals recovering from addiction, and asked them about stigma, barriers to care, the recovery journey, and life in recovery.

CCSA’s Technical Report, released in May 2017, details the results of the Life in Recovery survey. General findings revealed that:

  • Recovery leads to positive citizenship and life outcomes, such as improvements in work, finances, family life and overall health
  • Individuals use a variety of recovery resources, including informal supports (e.g., family and friends, religion and spirituality) and formal recovery programs (e.g., 12-Step support, detoxification programs, residential treatment), and
  • Individuals experience a range of challenges – including financial barriers, stigma, treatment delays, lack of services, and lack of service quality – when seeking treatment.

This survey sheds light on the cost of addiction and the complexity of recovery. Importantly, CCSA notes that recovery from addiction is achievable when people have access to quality, evidence-informed services and supports.

That’s where HRI comes in.

We work to integrate emerging data from studies such as CCSA’s, and from our own research projects, into clinical practice. But we also extend research into the post-discharge phase of treatment, picking up where other studies leave off, to build the data-driven care that benefits individuals struggling with addiction.

HRI’s Post-Discharge Outcomes Monitoring System is unique in Canada and generates data to evaluate the long-term impacts of treatment interventions. This data system will also allow for the development and testing of innovations to improve the treatment experience of patients, generate better outcomes, and offer better value for money – which, according to CCSA’s study – is exactly what Canada needs to advance addiction treatment.

The Life in Recovery survey is an important step toward a systematic understanding of addiction care in Canada. Emerging data gives hope to individuals in recovery and highlights the importance of applied mental health and addictions research in Canada, which is what we do every day at HRI.

Here are a few ways you can get involved and help us move mental health and addiction care forward in Canada: