A photo of the TEF building at UVic
The Health and Wellness Building at UVic, home to CISUR's Victoria office

CISUR is a network of individuals and partner organizations dedicated to conducting ethical, collaborative, high-quality studies of risk and protective factors for substance use and addictions and evaluating interventions relevant to substance use and related health determinants. Our research and knowledge mobilization activities informs a broad range of projects and initiatives with the goal of preventing and reducing community-wide harms from substance use among diverse populations locally, nationally, and internationally.

In 2021, CISUR was named the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Alcohol and Public Health Policy Research.

Since our inception as the Centre for Addictions Research (CARBC) in 2003, we have continued to gain international recognition for work based on our guiding principles of:

Improve wellbeing, reduce harms

Attention is required to both immediate factors (e.g. behavioural patterns and contexts) and distal factors (e.g. social, economic, policy-related) to effectively prevent and address harms from substance use and addictions across the life course. Recognition that some people will continue to use psychoactive substances and experience addictions is also critical, so strategies are needed to reduce harmful consequences, in addition to efforts that aim to directly reduce or prevent high-risk behaviours. Research that is of high quality and high public health relevance to local, national and international populations are prerequisites in support of this principle.

Conduct commercially independent, ethical scholarship

Commitment to solid ethical principles and transparency governing internal and external relationships and financial management, the conduct of research and the communication of research findings are of utmost importance. Protection from vested interests is also crucial to ensure that research is conducted in the broader public interest and to support public health. These guiding principles are enabled by excluding representatives of commercial interests (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and gaming entities) from CISUR membership, and not accepting direct research funding from such sources. Work with government or other funders including the treatment industry will involve mindful consideration of political influence or other factors affecting any aspect of the research.

Prioritize collaborative relationships

Dynamic, collaborative relationships at multiple levels are essential for ensuring relevance of the research across diverse experiences and outcomes of substance use and related interventions. Key relationships include those with policymakers, nongovernmental and community organizations, researchers from many disciplines, health and social practitioners, media, and the public, including people with lived and living experience of substance use and those coping with addictions and other substance-related problems.

Address social equity, inclusion and justice issues

Critical is a commitment to the promotion of equity and fairness and the pursuit of social justice through attention to the impact of the environmental context and social determinants that shape substance use and the development of health inequities. A focus on the role that substance use and related policies play in creating and driving inequalities is essential to improving health and to addressing disparities among disadvantaged populations. Special attention must be paid to the negative impacts of colonization on Indigenous populations, both overall and with respect to substance use.

Engage in informed discussion and debate

Open-mindedness and a commitment to fostering respectful discussion are crucial parts of the research process. This extends beyond the research community and includes a commitment to engage in public discussion and debate through focused knowledge mobilization and knowledge exchange activities to facilitate the adoption of evidence-based public policy that will improve health and well-being with respect to substance use.

Train and mentor emerging scholars and learners

Training and mentoring the next generation of scholars and learners promotes and sustains high quality substance-use-relevant research. We strive to provide collaborative educational opportunities for diverse populations, and to be inclusive of those in non-academic settings (e.g., community or government) and people with non-academic career goals.

Our advisory board, scientistsresearch and support staff, and partners are committed to helping our society better understand, manage and navigate a world where different people have different relationships with alcohol and other drugs.

A brief introduction to the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.