CARBC becomes the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research

What’s in a name? For the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC), many things. Which is why we will now be known as the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR).

The name change follows an extensive consultation process with CISUR scientists, researchers and stakeholders, and was approved by the UVic Senate on November 3. It was also supported by our partners such as the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the Pan-American Health Organization.

“Our organization has grown and changed dramatically since its inception nearly 15 years ago,” says CISUR director Tim Stockwell. “We are pleased to have a new title that more accurately reflects the nature of our work and the scale on which we are operating.”

The decision to change the name from BC to Canadian reflects the national (and international) scope of many of CISUR’s activities. For example, our studies of Managed Alcohol Programs and implementation of evidence-based alcohol policies in Canada has hired people in several communities in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and British Columbia. Our investigations of alcohol policy impacts on health have involved collaborations with organizations in the UK, Sweden, USA, Australia and other countries. Overall, CISUR has over 100 collaborating scientists and centres, research affiliates, partner institutions and community collaborators spread across Canada and the world.

It was felt that the term “institute” was a more accurate representation of the breadth of the expertise of CISUR’s faculty and students who come from many different disciplines and also the scale of their research and knowledge mobilization activities. The change from “addiction” to “substance use” was chosen to reflect the institute’s focus on broad patterns of substance use across society and policies that influence overall levels of use and harm, as CISUR’s mandate extends beyond exclusively addressing what might traditionally be referred to as "addiction.”

The name change comes at a time where CISUR’s work is more important than ever, says Stockwell. “Our favourite recreational substance, alcohol, is being rapidly deregulated,” he says. “Less hazardous, but not completely safe, ways of using nicotine have been discovered. The use of and harms from both prescription and illicit opioids have reached epidemic proportions. And cannabis is about to be legalized.” 

Michael Prince, UVic’s Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy and chair of CISUR’s advisory board, agrees. “There is a critical need for impartial collection of evidence and collaborative engagement with stakeholders, and CISUR is a vital piece of that puzzle."

Read CISUR's new strategic plan.

Read CISUR's most recent annual report.