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Jul 13, 2007

Vancouver Canada: Chronic Addiction Substitution Treatment Trial

What is CAST?

Chronic Addiction Substitution Treatment Trial, or CAST, is a research trial that will work with addicted people to change their drug habits from illegal street drugs to legally available, orally-administered prescription medications. Health Canada must approve a Clinical Trial proposal for the research trials to use prescription medications in this innovative way. The research would analyze the effects on both the user’s health and the community at large. Regular interaction with health professionals will facilitate interventions to help users develop an “exit strategy” to end their drug dependency.

Video message from our Mayor

Measurable outcomes from the project for the community would include a reduction in the open drug market, a reduction in property crimes, and a reduction in aggressive panhandling and public nuisance complaints. Outcomes for the individual would be reduced illegal activity and subsequent arrests, increased level of housing options, increased health and increased employment opportunities.

Traditional drug addiction treatments have proven to be very successful for a large segment of people suffering from addiction. However, for roughly three quarters of the drug addicted population, traditional treatment has not resulted in abstinence in the long-term – substitution treatment offers an option for this population of illegal drug users. Ending drug dependency is the goal of substitution treatment.

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The Problem

Downtown Vancouver, in particular the area known as the Downtown Eastside (DTES), has become known for its large open drug scene, unsafe conditions for survival sex trade workers, violence, poor health outcomes and one of the most explosive HIV epidemics in North America. Despite decades of concerted interventions on the part of both the public and the private sector, people who live in, work in or visit this area remain at significant risk from both a health and a public order perspective.

Public illegal drug use, in particular the use of cocaine, is rampant; sex work remains visible and unsafe; addiction services are inadequate, poverty and homelessness are common – in fact, the rate of homelessness in the DTES has doubled in the past 5 years; and the HIV and HCV epidemics continue to grow. The average life expectancy for a man living in the downtown eastside is approximately 20 years less than in most other neighbourhoods in the city.

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The CAST concept has been generating a lot of interest from the media.

>> Read what the media are saying...


The CAST research trial and the concept behind the research is being supported by a wide range of people from all areas of society and across all political lines.

>> Read what supporters are saying...


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