Policy Statements


The Canadian Society for Addiction Medicine has policies on the following:

Definition of Addiction

The CSAM Board adopted the following 2011 American Society of Addiction Medicine [ASAM] short definition of Addiction on Oct 5, 2011.

“Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”

Please note the following:

  • A diagnosis of this condition must be based on a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment.
  • Awareness of the developmental aspects of addiction as well as the impact of gender and socio-cultural factors is also required.
  • It is recognized that a significant portion of society’s burden attributable to misuse or harmful use of substance, such as intoxication or traffic accidents as well as from other behaviors may occur in the absence of addiction.

See the ASAM long definition of addiction here.


CSAM Policy Documents

Use Of Opioids For The Treatment Of Chronic Pain | 2011

Harm Reduction – Perspectives And Policy Statement | 1999

Medicinal Use Of Cannabis: Perspectives And Policy Statement | 2012

National Drug Policy Statement

Supervised injection sites | 2009