Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

National Framework for Action to Reduce the Harms Associated with Alcohol and Other Drugs and Substances in Canada

Substance use is an issue of such magnitude and complexity, touching all sectors of society, that individual organizations and sectors cannot address it by themselves.

Sharing a collective vision and partnering for action are effective approaches to reducing alcohol- and drug-related harms. Multi-sector partnerships and shared ownership and accountability by key stakeholders avoids duplication of efforts, magnifies the reach and impact of all, and increases the likelihood of success.

The National Framework embodies this collective vision and guides CCSA’s work. It represents a national consensus to address problematic substance use, which costs Canada nearly $40 billion a year (2014). Developed collaboratively in 2005 by representatives from governments, enforcement agencies, Aboriginal service providers, NGOs, academics, the health community, Health Canada and CCSA, the National Framework provides a roadmap for change in Canada and aims to build a healthy society and address the stigma associated with substance use and addiction.

A one-page summary of the National Framework provides an overview of our mandate. In 2008, the partners added impaired driving and concurrent disorders to the 13 priorities established in the initial Framework.

The Framework has since influenced the development of municipal, provincial and territorial drug strategies in Ottawa, Toronto, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, and Newfoundland and Labrador. It also formed the backbone of national strategies to address alcohol, treatment and prescription drug issues in Canada.

Updating the Framework

What We Heard: Refreshing the National Framework for Action to Reduce the Harms Associated with Alcohol and Other Drugs and Substances in Canada is the result of consultations with more than 170 stakeholders across Canada as part of a process to refresh the National Framework. It contains input from the stakeholders on a way forward for the National Framework and the priorities identified over 10 years ago. It provides guidance on how to explore current and emerging priorities in the addiction and substance use field, and discusses how best to address the harms of problematic substance use in Canada today.

Featured Resource

Applying an Analysis that Takes into Account Sex, Gender and Diversity

In May 2008, participants in developing the National Framework expressed interest in addressing differences between women and men, as well as girls and boys in the implementation of the National Framework’s priorities.

In response to this interest, they created a worksheet to support the activities of those working on the National Framework priorities.

The worksheet includes:

  • An introduction to what is meant by sex and gender;
  • Key questions and 13 points to illustrate and help guide the National Framework’s priority areas in applying analysis that takes into account sex, gender and diversity;
  • Suggestions for and an invitation to discuss how CCSA can support the National Framework’s priority areas with work that takes into account sex, gender and diversity;
  • Evidence of the need to increase understanding of sex and gender differences in substance use and addictions for each of the National Framework priority areas; and
  • Suggested resources for further reference.

The goal of the worksheet is to help practitioners, activists, researchers, system planners and politicians to incorporate a population-informed approach in their work that attends to gender and other ways in which social conditions and inequities shape overall health.

The partners also created a checklist for Bringing Gender and Diversity Analysis to our Work. The checklist is a tool to both encourage and provide guidance for taking the initial steps towards applying sex, gender and diversity-based analysis to activities undertaken by the substance use and addiction workforce.

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