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Government of Canada supports first national guideline on high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder

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OTTAWA, ON, Jan. 29, 2021 /CNW/ – High-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD) can have significant health, social and economic consequences for individuals and communities. However, a lack of research, limited access to substance use specialists, and insufficient training resources mean that AUD can frequently go unrecognized or untreated in Canada.    

To providing care to those struggling with this medical condition, today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced federal funding of more than $1.5 million over three years to the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) to develop the first National Guideline for the Clinical Management of High-Risk Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). The guideline will help Canadian health care providers quickly identify and address harmful drinking, and treat and support patients throughout their lifetime.

“We know that high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder can have significant impacts on Canadians’ health, but a lack of understanding and resources means that those with AUD can struggle to get the support they need,” said The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health. “In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increasingly high level of alcohol use in Canada, with Canadians becoming more aware of the negative impacts of alcohol. This national guideline – the first of its kind – will give our health care providers the tools and resources needed to effectively help those who struggle with problematic alcohol use,” added Hajdu.

The guideline will contain evidence-based information and resources to help health care providers diagnose and treat AUD, including resources tailored to specific populations, such as pregnant women and Indigenous Peoples. 

As part of the project, the BCCSU will also develop guidance for Canadian Managed Alcohol Programs (MAP), a treatment option for people with severe AUD. MAP can stabilize and prevent health and social harms by providing controlled amounts of alcohol at specific times to help manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, MAP can help reduce further harms, including drinking alone, consuming harmful levels of alcohol, or consuming unsafe sources, such as non-beverage alcohol products (e.g., hand sanitizer and mouth wash).

The guideline and associated guidance documents are expected to be available to health care providers in 2022-23.

High-risk drinking and AUD is a health condition. It can be managed and treated if people are provided with services and supports that best meet their needs. The Government of Canada continues to work closely with public health, provinces and territories and other key stakeholders to minimize the harms associated with problematic alcohol use.

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