Benedikt Fischer's research while affiliated with University of Toronto and other places

Publications (365)

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Introduction Correctional populations with opioid use disorder experience increased health risks during community transition periods. Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) can reduce these risks, but retention is a key challenge. This study addresses a knowledge gap by describing facilitators and barriers to OAT engagement among federal correctional popul...
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Issues: Cannabis use and related health/social outcome indicator data for Brazil-where non-medical cannabis is generally illegal-are limited. Approach: Towards a comprehensive overview of relevant indicators, we searched primary databases by combining MeSH-index terms related to cannabis, geographic location and subtopic terms (e.g., use, health...
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Introduction Evidence supporting associations between cannabis use and many health outcomes is growing, however it remains unclear how such associations vary across the lifespan. We therefore aim to answer the following questions: (1) Are the risks of cannabis’s adverse effects on mental health and addiction-related outcomes different in adolescent...
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Introduction Involuntary psychiatric hospitalization occurs when someone with a serious mental disorder requires treatment without their consent. Trends vary globally, and currently, there is limited data on involuntary hospitalization in Canada. We examine involuntary hospitalization trends in British Columbia, Canada, and describe the social and...
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Background Cannabis use disorder (CUD) affects one-in-five cannabis users, presenting a major contributor to cannabis-associated disease burden. Epidemiological data identify the frequency of cannabis use as a risk factor for CUD. This review aimed to determine quantifiable risk-thresholds of the frequency of cannabis use for developing CUD. Metho...
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Public health-oriented frameworks for cannabis use of control, including legalization, are evolving. Most frameworks aim to reduce cannabis-related health harms that materialize among users; there has been comparably limited focus on cannabis-related “harm-to-others”. A longstanding issue for other psychoactive substances, and increasingly recogniz...
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Objective: Extensive exposure to prescription-type opioids has resulted in major harm worldwide, calling for better-adapted approaches to opioid agonist therapy. The authors aimed to determine whether flexible take-home buprenorphine/naloxone is as effective as supervised methadone in reducing opioid use in prescription-type opioid consumers with...
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Rationale The growing prevalence of psychostimulant (including amphetamine) use and associated health harms, with limited treatment options, present a global challenge. There is an increasing availability and medical applications of cannabinoids, and growing interest in their therapeutic potential for addictive disorders. Objectives The objective...
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Purpose: To investigate the impact of restrictions on access to long acting oxycodone on prescription opioid use and opioid-related harms. Methods: Administrative health data from Ontario, Canada was used to measure differences in opioids dispensed and ED visits for opioid-related overdose, poisoning or substance use following provincial restric...
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Introduction Correctional populations on opioid agonist treatment (OAT) experience adverse outcomes upon community release. However, many factors impact post-release community reintegration experiences/trajectories, and few studies examine the complex interplay between these dynamics. The current study utilized the socio-ecological model (SEM) to e...
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Issues: Non-medical prescription opioid use (NMPOU) contributes substantially to the global burden of morbidity. However, no systematic assessment of the scientific literature on the associations between NMPOU and health outcomes has yet been undertaken. Approach: We undertook a systematic review evaluating health outcomes related to NMPOU based...
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Background Epidemiological studies show a dose–response association between cannabis use and the risk of psychosis. This review aimed to determine whether there are identifiable risk-thresholds between the frequency of cannabis use and psychosis development. Methods Systematic search of Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Web of Science for rel...
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Background Incarcerated populations experience an elevated prevalence of opioid use disorder (OUD). Federal correctional institutions in Canada have increasingly treated OUD among correctional populations via opioid agonist treatment (OAT) – an evidence based pharmacotherapy that works to reduce drug use and related health harms. However, there is...
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Background: Canada has experienced a distinctly bifurcated pattern of (strong) opioid utilization post-2000, with multifold increases rendering it one of the world's highest opioid consumption rates, followed by subsequent substantive declines since 2011/2012. Several interventions to control especially high-risk opioid use have been implemented p...
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Data on cannabis use patterns and health outcome indicators for Brazil are limited. We undertook a cross-sectional internet-based survey assessing socio-demographics, cannabis use frequency, other drug use, quality-of-life (QOL), affective states (i.e. anxiety and depression), and cannabis use disorder among adult respondents in Brazil. A multinomi...
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Background Limited evidence exists in Canada on outcomes related to Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) and/or differences between OAT modalities among persons in correctional institutions. This study addresses this knowledge gap by examining key characteristics and outcomes of men in Canadian federal correctional institutions across treatment modalitie...
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Background: Canada implemented the legalization and regulation of non-medical cannabis use, production and sale in 2018 aiming to improve public health and safety. While outcomes from legalization reforms in other jurisdictions mostly rely on US-based data have been assessed to be mixed, Canadian data are only emerging. We compiled select populati...
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Background Into the 21st century, the conflation of high rates of chronic pain, systemic gaps in treatment availability and access, and the arrival of potent new opioid medications (e.g., slow-release oxycodone) facilitated strong increases in medical opioid dispensing in Canada. These persisted until post-2010 alongside rising opioid-related adver...
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Canada legalized and regulated non-medical cannabis in October 2018, and in the lead up to this policy change much debate was generated around the Federal Government's stated objective of "keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth". As Canada moved through the process of passing Bill C-45 (the Cannabis Act), a contentious issue was wh...
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Background Cannabis use is common, especially among young people, and is associated with risks for various health harms. Some jurisdictions have recently moved to legalization/regulation pursuing public health goals. Evidence-based ‘Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines’ (LRCUG) and recommendations were previously developed to reduce modifiable risk f...
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Cocaine use entails severe health-and social-related harms globally. Treatment options for cocaine dependence are highly limited. Benefits of cannabinoids for addiction have been documented , making it opportune to examine existing data on the possible outcomes associated with cannabinoids and cocaine co-use. We conducted a systematic scoping revie...
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Canada is experiencing an epidemic of opioid-related mortality, with increasing yet heterogeneous fatality patterns from illicit/synthetic (e.g., fentanyl) opioids. The present study examined whether differential provincial reductions in medical opioid dispensing following restrictive regulations (post-2010) were associated with differential contri...
Article
North America (i.e., the United States and Canada) and select other wealthy Commonwealth countries (e.g., Australia, the UK) have been experiencing marked ‘opioid epidemics’, consisting of elevated opioid use and related (e.g., mortality and morbidity) harms involving both prescription and, increasingly, illicit opioid substances. Multiple commenta...
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Purpose Brazil’s street-based drug use is mostly characterized by non-injection psychostimulant (e.g. crack-cocaine) drug use in Brazil, with limited interventions and service availability. Recently, an influx of multi-ethnic migrants within an urban drug scene in Sao Paulo was associated with heroin use, a drug normatively absent from Brazil. The...
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Background Crack-cocaine dependence is a serious public health issue, related to several psychiatric and psychosocial problems. Crack-cocaine users are usually embedded in a context of great social vulnerability, often associated with violence, poverty, family conflict and easy and early access to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Methods This cro...
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In the early 2000s, increasing prevalence of psycho-stimulant (e.g., crack/cocaine, methamphetamine) use and related harms, including severe adverse health outcomes, was observed among - mostly marginalized - populations of persons using illicit drugs in North America, underscoring an urgent need for interventions options towards improved preventio...
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Background Global opioid consumption increased multifold post-2000, disproportionately in high-income countries, with severe mortality/morbidity consequences. Latin America features comparatively low opioid availability; Brazil, the region’s most populous country, makes an interesting case study concerning opioid use/harms. In this comprehensive ov...
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North America and select other Commonwealth jurisdictions have been experiencing unprecedented opioid epidemics characterized by excessive and persistently high levels of opioid misuse, morbidity and mortality, and related disease burden. Recent discussions have considered whether New Zealand might undergo or needs to expect a similar ‘opioid crisi...
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Cannabis control policies in a few countries have recently shifted from criminal prohibition-based regimes to legalization of use and supply. While cannabis’ newly emerging status of legality may suggest a coming “end” for criminology-based interest in the drug, these fundamental changes rather open a window to a new set of criminological research...
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Aim While most users will not experience severe adverse health outcomes from cannabis, it can be associated with negative outcomes in people with psychosis. People with psychosis who use cannabis have more severe psychiatric symptoms, higher rates of hospitalization, and diminished psychosocial functioning compared to those who do not use cannabis....
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Abstract While there has been extensive attention to the ‘demand side’ – or use and adverse consequences, including mortality – of the ‘opioid crisis’ presently unfolding across North America, few considerations have focused on the supply side. This paper examines the supply side dynamics of this unprecedented public health phenomenon. We provide e...
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Introduction This study examines the prevalence of risky cannabis use based on adherence to the Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines. Methods Respondents aged 16–65 years in Canada and the U.S. (N=27,024) completed the online 2018 International Cannabis Policy Study. Participants completed measures corresponding to the Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidel...
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Introduction Between 2015 and 2018, there were over 40 000 opioid-related overdose events and 4551 deaths among residents in British Columbia (BC). During this time the province mobilised a variety of policy levers to encourage physicians to expand access to opioid agonist treatment and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CP...
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Cannabis use is common, especially among young people, and associated with risks for acute and chronic adverse health and social outcomes. New Zealand features overall high cannabis use levels, yet may soon follow other jurisdictions and implement legalization of non-medical cannabis use and supply towards public health objectives. While existing c...
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Canada has been home to comparatively extreme developments in prescription opioid (PO) availability and related harms (e.g. morbidity, mortality) post-2000. Following persistent pan-Canadian increases in PO use, select control measures were implemented and PO dispensing levels—while only inconsistently by province—inverted, and began to plateau or...
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Background: As several regulatory and environmental changes have occurred in North America, trends in overdose deaths were examined in the United States (US), Ontario and British Columbia (BC), including changes in consumption levels of prescription opioids (PO) and overdose deaths, changes in correlations between consumption levels of PO and over...
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Canada, alongside other jurisdictions, implemented non-medical cannabis legalization in 2018, partly towards improving public health. Evidence-based ‘Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines’ (LRCUG), including recommendations for cannabis users on how to decrease risk-behaviors, have been developed and widely disseminated in Canada since 2017. However,...
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Canada has been home to a longstanding public health crisis related to opioids, including an extensive mortality and morbidity toll in the face of substantive intervention gaps. Recently (2019), two extensive reports from preeminent federal authorities – the Chief Public Health Officer and the Mental Health Commission of Canada – have been tabled w...
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New Zealand will hold a public referendum in 2020 on the possible replacement of current cannabis prohibition with legalisation of use and supply policy. Cannabis legalisation policies have been implemented-albeit with heterogeneous regulatory frameworks-in several (eg, North/South America) jurisdictions, with yet inconclusive evidence on main heal...
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Background: High levels of opioid-related mortality, as well as morbidity, contribute to the excessive opioid-related disease burden in North America, induced by high availability of opioids. While correlations between opioid dispensing levels and mortality outcomes are well-established, fewer evidence exists on correlations with morbidity (e.g.,...
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We comment on developments in and impacts of medical opioid control and availability in the province of British Columbia (Canada). Population-level dispensing of (strong) prescription opioids doubled in 2005–2011, yet subsequently declined by half 2011–2018 following implementation of various opioid control measures. Notwithstanding this inversion,...
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•Canada experiences excessive opioid mortality, mainly from toxic opioid exposure.•Many interventions have been implemented, but are limited in reach and impact.•'Safer opioid distribution' (SOD) is a crucial preventive measure for overdose.•SOD needs to be implemented for a large, 'at-risk' opioid user population.•Other community-based public heal...
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Issues Non‐medical cannabis policies are changing, including towards legalisation‐with‐regulation frameworks. New Zealand will hold a public referendum on cannabis legalisation in 2020. We reviewed data on cannabis use and health/social harms; policy reform options; experiences with and outcomes of reforms elsewhere; and other relevant consideratio...
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Background: North America has been experiencing a persistent epidemic of opioid-related overdose mortality, which has increasingly been driven by fatalities from illicit, toxic opioids in most recent years. Patterns of synthetic opioid availability and related mortality are heterogeneous across Canada, and differing explanations exist as to their...
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Background Worldwide opioid-related overdose has become a major public health crisis. People with opioid use disorder (OUD) are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and at higher risk for opioid-related mortality. However, correctional facilities frequently adopt an abstinence-only approach, seldom offering the gold standard opioid agonis...
Article
New Zealand may be the next national jurisdiction where non-medical cannabis use and supply will be legalized. While the current New Zealand government's plans for possible cannabis legalization were rather unclear for some time, initial details on proposed key parameters (for example, age limits, production and supply modes, use restrictions) of a...
Preprint
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Background: High levels of opioid-related mortality, as well as morbidity, contribute to the excessive opioid-related disease burden in North America, induced by high availability of opioids. While correlations between opioid dispensing levels and mortality outcomes are well-established, fewer evidence exists on correlations with morbidity (e.g., h...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: High levels of opioid-related mortality, as well as morbidity, contribute to the excessive opioid-related disease burden in North America, induced by high availability of opioids. While correlations between opioid dispensing levels and mortality outcomes are well-established, fewer evidence exists on correlations with morbidity (e.g., h...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: High levels of opioid-related mortality, as well as morbidity, contribute to the excessive opioid-related disease burden in North America, induced by high availability of opioids. While correlations between opioid dispensing levels and mortality outcomes are well-established, fewer evidence exists on correlations with morbidity (e.g., h...
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North America has been experiencing an acute and unprecedented public health crisis involving excessive and increasing levels of opioid-related overdose mortality. In the present commentary, we examine current interventions (as existent mainly in Canada) to date and compare them against established intervention frameworks and practices in other are...
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Background Illicit drug use rates are high among Canadian youth, and are particularly pronounced in Northern Ontario. The availability and accessibility of effective substance use-related treatments and services are required to address this problem, especially among rural and remote Northern communities. In order to assess specific service and trea...
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Background: The use of illicit and prescription drugs for non-medical purposes among youth and young adults living in Northern Ontario communities is a major public health concern. This problem is amplified in that there is insufficient knowledge on the types of services and treatment centers available for and utilized by young people with substanc...
Article
Issues: Canada recently introduced a public health-based regulatory framework for non-medical cannabis. This review sought to identify a comprehensive set of indicators to evaluate the public health and safety impact of cannabis regulation in Canada, and to explore the ways in which these indicators may be expected to change in the era of legal no...
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This commentary follows up on previous examinations on the state and evolution of opioid use, related harms, and interventions since the early 2000s in Canada. Since the most recent commentary, there have been distinct yet heterogeneous developments on these fronts. Policy and intervention systems have become notably more active in regards to what...
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The second edition of Drug Policy and the Public Good presents up‐to‐date evidence relating to the development of drug policy at local, national, and international levels. The book explores both illicit drug use and nonmedical use of prescription medications from a public health perspective. The core of the book is a critical review of the scientif...
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Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug, and is associated with well-documented adverse health outcomes, both acute and chronic. Cannabis use prevalence in Brazil is lower than in high-use regions in the Americas (e.g., North America), but concentrated among young people. Frameworks for cannabis control are increasingly shifting towards pub...
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Purpose Opioid use and associated mortality and morbidity have substantially increased in Canada, which recent interventions have aimed to reduce. Tramadol is an atypical prescription‐only (but unscheduled under Canada's narcotics law) opioid analgesic and not subject to controls for other (eg, strong) opioids. Given experiences in different jurisd...
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Background: The use of illicit and prescription drugs for non-medical purposes among youth and young adults living in Northern Ontario communities is a major public health concern. This problem is amplified in that there is insufficient knowledge on the types of services and treatment centers available for and utilized by young people with substanc...
Article
Background: Motor vehicle collisions are an important contributor to prescription opioid use-related morbidity and mortality. The purpose of the current study was to estimate the prevalence of driving under the influence of prescription opioids (DUIPO) in Ontario, Canada, and to measure the association between this behaviour and the risk of a moto...
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Background: Levels of prescription opioid (PO) dispensing have been rising in Canada - also in global comparison - since the mid-2000s, and are co-occurring with extensive PO-related morbidity and mortality. Previous analyses have demonstrated correlations between PO dispensing and related harm levels, yet also distinct heterogeneous interprovinci...
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The legalization of non-medical cannabis use and supply is impending in Canada. This constitutes a major policy change with the declared objective of improving public health outcomes, which requires rigorous monitoring and evaluation. While numerous different aspects associated with legalization will be examined, a focused perspective is required f...