Minister Williams is travelling to meet with senior administrators, community leaders and practitioners regarded as international drug policy experts to support the continued implementation of evidence-based best practices in Alberta. The mission is an opportunity to learn from other jurisdictions taking a recovery-oriented approach to addiction and mental health care, including understanding their best practices and how they have informed the development of policies and programs.

“Alberta is following the best available evidence and practices from around the world to build the Alberta Recovery Model. Meeting with international drug policy experts from some of the most recognized models and programs around the world will enable us to learn from their best practices to improve care here in Alberta.”

Dan Williams, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

Portugal has pioneered many innovative approaches to addressing addiction over the past 20 years. Most notably, Portugal has implemented the Commissions for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction, in addition to investments in treatment and social supports, as a measure to ensure addiction is addressed as a health care issue. Learning about this model first-hand will support the development of Alberta’s proposed Compassionate Intervention Act, which would seek to implement a similar model of commissions responsible for issuing treatment orders here in Alberta.

Additionally, the San Patrignano Recovery Community is internationally recognized for its therapeutic recovery community program. This large recovery community is home to more than 1,000 people suffering from drug addiction and marginalization and helps them pursue recovery. San Patrignano has been in operation for more than 40 years, and visiting will support the continued development of the recovery community model in Alberta. San Patrignano also delivers a unique program specifically for the treatment of gambling addiction, which is currently a gap in Alberta’s treatment system.

Minister Williams will be accompanied by one staff member and one department representative.

Expenses will be posted on the travel and expense disclosure page.

Itinerary for Minister Williams*:

April 25 to April 26

  • Travel to Europe

April 27

  • Personal time

April 28

  • Travel to Lisbon, Portugal

April 29

  • Meet with officials – Institute on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies
  • Tour - Centro das Taipas – Detoxification Unit
  • Meet with officials – European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions

April 30

  • Meet with officials – Commissions for Dissuasion from Drug Abuse (CDTs)
  • Meet with officials – Public Security Police

May 1

  • Travel to Italy

May 2

  • San Patrignano Therapeutic Recovery Community - Programs for people with addiction issues and addiction treatment centre, with added focus on gambling addiction

May 3

  • San Patrignano Therapeutic Recovery Community - Medical and social related programs and tracking outcomes and effectiveness

May 4

  • Ceis San Crispino di Viterbo Therapeutic Recovery Community

May 5

  • Return to Alberta

*Subject to change.

Quick Facts

  • Both Portugal and Italy are internationally recognized for their well-established recovery-oriented approach to addiction.
  • In more than 20 years since it was implemented, the Portugal Model has demonstrated positive outcomes including much lower overdose fatality rates compared with neighbouring countries.
  • Italy’s San Patrignano Therapeutic Community, operating for more than 40 years, is known as one of the most successful, large-scale therapeutic recovery communities in the world.
  • The Alberta Recovery Model provides access to a full continuum of services and supports, from prevention and intervention to treatment and recovery.
  • Since 2019, Alberta has added 10,000 new, publicly funded addiction treatment spaces across the province and eliminated daily user fees.
  • Budget 2024 will invest more than $1.55 billion to continue building the Alberta Recovery Model and establish Recovery Alberta as a health agency responsible for mental health and addiction services.
  • Alberta’s government is building 11 recovery communities across the province. Once operational, they will add about 700 new treatment beds capable of supporting more than 2,000 Albertans in their pursuit of recovery every year.
  • Albertans struggling with opioid addiction can contact the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP) by calling 1-844-383-7688, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.. VODP provides same-day access to addiction medicine specialists. There is no cost and no wait list.