A statement from Suzanne McGurn, CADTH President and CEO, on International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day is a global day of awareness held every year on August 31. Today, I join millions of Canadians in reflecting on the lives lost due to overdose, the grief so many families endure, and the stigma that impacts the daily lives of people who use drugs.

I’m also thinking about the social and economic disparities the addiction crisis has exposed, and how they are magnified by COVID-19. These inequalities, and the stereotypes surrounding problematic drug use, need to be overcome.

With new reports showing disturbing increases in overdoses in many parts of the country, it’s evident that the pandemic is worsening Canada’s opioid crisis. Both public health crises are urgent and complex, and sustained action on both fronts is needed to save lives.

Supporting an evidence-informed response to the overdose crisis

CADTH is an evidence-driven agency. And harnessing our significant research expertise to help governments, health care organizations, and clinicians use evidence to tackle the overdose crisis remains an important priority for our organization.

We continue to engage with stakeholders and health system partners through Health Canada’s Opioid Response Team. Through this forum, we can quickly share new findings with a broad network of policy-makers and organizations at the front lines of Canada’s response.

A snapshot of some recent questions we’ve answered include:

As with all our work, these reports are publicly available. They can be easily accessed at, our regularly updated web portal for new evidence on opioids and pain management.

Importantly, for Canadians living with chronic pain and the clinicians who care for them, understanding the benefits and risks of non-drug treatment options is also vital. That’s why we’re hosting a webinar next month to delve into the current evidence on physical activity for chronic, non-cancer pain, featuring both experts and a patient with lived experience.

International Overdose Awareness Day is an important day of remembrance. CADTH remains firmly committed to helping health systems combat the overdose epidemic.