President’s Message

Board of director Jennifer Barsch

December 2021

December is a time of looking back, and looking ahead. For CSAM-SMCA, 2021 has been a year of growth, and
expansion of our virtual connections across the country.

CSAM-SMCA Policy Committee

We began the year with the release of our policy paper supporting the decriminalization of drugs for personal use. Our statement has been endorsed by the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian College of Family Physicians, with other organizations currently considering adding their endorsement. For 2022, CSAM-SMCA and the Policy Committee are looking ahead to see how we can move beyond our policy paper to advocate at a national level for changes in legislation to decriminalize drug possession for personal use.

CSAM-SMCA Educational Activities 

Looking back at our educational activities, in 2021 our Journal Club met 6 times, we established a Special Interest Group for medical students, and we hosted a successful full day course in the Fundamentals of Addiction, held virtually for the second time. Our biggest event, our Scientific Conference, brought together 509 attendees for close to 50 live-streamed educational sessions and 51 on-demand research briefs. A much better networking system in the conference app enabled attendees to connect more easily to share resources and find allies. Looking ahead, the SIG for medical students will be hosting 3 virtual seminars about careers in addiction medicine in January. We are also already looking ahead to our 2022 conference. As of this writing, we are hoping to offer a hybrid conference from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, but we may need to alter those plans, given all the uncertainty in the world.

CSAM-SMCA Membership Expansion

I would also like to look back at our Annual General Meeting, where the decision to expand Voting Membership to members of all regulated health professions was passed. I am pleased that our membership will now better reflect the practice of addiction medicine in Canada. Looking ahead, we will post the new membership application on our website as soon as possible and look forward to welcoming new members, and the breadth of experience and knowledge they will bring to CSAM-SMCA.

Looking Back On 2021

Looking back, it is important to acknowledge that this has been a profoundly difficult year for everyone touched by addictions, either personally or professionally. Many, perhaps most, of us have lost someone to a toxic drug ingestion or to COVID-19. These losses are a tragedy for us personally, for our communities, and our country. CSAM members are involved in projects, advisory groups and research studies addressing the opioid epidemic, and also recommendations for new resources for addiction medicine care as the country recovers from the pandemic. I am grateful to all involved in working to prevent deaths by toxic drug ingestion, in all capacities from front line outreach to research project leads.

Looking Ahead To 2022

Looking ahead for CSAM-SMCA in 2022, I know that the Policy Committee is exploring the topic of involuntary hospitalization or treatment for addiction. Additionally, CSAM-SMCA expects to finalize recommendations for Addiction Medicine care as part of the Choosing Wisely series in early 2022. The Education Committee has several projects underway, including plans to develop a directory of fellowship programs in addiction medicine in Canada. I am looking ahead to welcoming new Board members, and new members to our committees. If you are interested in a more active role in CSAM-SMCA, I encourage you to consider applying to join one of our committees or consider starting a Special Interest Group.

This December, I look back and reflect on the many losses and griefs of 2021, but also the promise that COVID-19 vaccines have brought. I look ahead to 2022, knowing there is much work to be done, and that CSAM-SMCA will contribute to education and advocacy in addiction medicine in Canada. In 2022 we will continue to let our vision statement guide our activities: Hope and dignity for all touched by addictions.

May you mark the winter solstice and your end-of-year celebrations with rituals that bring comfort and, hopefully, joy.

The Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine is a national society of medical professionals and scientists committed to helping Canadians understand, accept, and recover from substance use disorders.

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