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Statistics on Addiction in Canada

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The majority of people who use substances such as drugs or alcohol do so to relax or have fun. Unfortunately, for some people, using substances or engaging in certain behaviours can become problematic and may lead to abuse or addiction. 

In Canada, approximately 21% of the population (about 6 million people) will experience a substance use disorder or addiction at some point in their lifetime. 

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, the top addictions in Canada are: 

  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Gambling
  • Methamphetamine
  • Opioids & prescription drugs

Keep reading to learn more about the trends of each of the above addictions in Canada. 

Alcohol

Alcohol is a legal substance known for its psychoactive properties and is the most commonly used substance in Canada. 

Health Impacts of Alcohol

Alcohol is often overconsumed. When overconsumed, alcohol can lead to both health and social consequences. Some of these risks include:

  • Short term risks: Intoxication, temporary memory issues, injury, violence, accidents, and overdose
  • Long term risks: Addiction, increased risk of cancer, permanent memory issues, heart disease, mental health disorders and social problems 

To avoid these risks, Canadians who choose to consume alcohol should follow Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.

Alcohol Trends in Canada 

Although studies show that the use of alcohol by underage and young adults is slowly declining, 20% of Canadians still consume alcohol above the recommended guideline. 

Additional alcohol trends in Canada include:

  • Alcohol use has steadily increased among females since 2013
  • The use of alcohol is still the most prevalent among adults aged 18-24 
  • The use of alcohol by underage people and young adults has remained steady in the past few years 

Cannabis

Cannabis is a plant known for its psychoactive properties.  People use it both recreationally and for medical reasons and consume it in a variety of ways. 

Health Impacts of Cannabis

Depending on how cannabis is consumed, it can lead to the following health risks: 

  • Respiratory and cardiovascular effects 
  • Over-consumption or addiction 
  • Mental health disorders 

Cannabis Trends in Canada

Although Cannabis was legalized in Canada in 2018, reports show that cannabis use and addiction rates have not increased. 

Additional cannabis trends in Canada include:

  • Canada reports one of the highest rates of adolescent cannabis use in the world
  • About 25% of young people in Canada report having used cannabis in the past year
  • 2% of young people report using cannabis every day 

Cocaine

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant made from the leaves of the coca plant. It is most commonly used as a recreational drug and can be consumed in various ways. 

Health Impacts of Cocaine

Using cocaine is associated with many health risks such as:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Overdose and addiction
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Weight loss
  • Mental health disorders
  • Headaches

Cocaine is commonly used with other drugs, which can further increase the above risks. 

Cocaine Trends in Canada 

Cocaine trends in Canada include:

  • About 2% of Canadians consumed cocaine in some form
  • The rate of cocaine use in people aged 20 to 24 is increasing

Gambling

Gambling is a legal activity that many Canadians partake in. Unfortunately, in some cases, gambling can become compulsive and problematic. 

Health and Social Impacts of Gambling

Gambling addiction has been linked to :

  • Depression and suicide
  • Bankruptcy
  • Family breakup or violence 

These effects can be devastating to the individual as well as the people surrounding them. 

Gambling Trends in Canada 

Around 75% of Canadians have participated in gambling, but less than 0.7% of Canadians reported having a gambling addiction. 

Additional gambling trends in Canada include:

  • Gambling addicts in Canada typically lose more than $500,000 a year
  • The lottery is the most popular form of gambling in Canada
  • The percentage of people with gambling addictions is decreasing 

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is an illegal synthetic drug known for its psychoactive effects. It is classified as a central nervous system stimulant and can be consumed in a variety of forms. 

Health Impacts of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine use can have severe physiological and psychological effects, including:

  • Headaches
  • An elevated heart rate and body temperature
  • Overdose and addiction
  • Psychotic symptoms including hallucinations and delusions
  • Cognitive impairment such as memory loss

Statistics on Methamphetamine in Canada 

There has been an increase in the availability of methamphetamine across Canada. Additionally, there has been an increase in:

  • Methamphetamine related deaths
  • Hospitalizations due to methamphetamine overdoses 

Opioids & Prescription Drugs 

Prescription drugs and opioids are medications prescribed by a health professional to help manage pain and health conditions. Unfortunately, opioids and prescription drugs are often misused for non-medical purposes. This can lead to problematic use and adverse health outcomes.

Health Impacts of Opioids

Like all drug use, overuse can lead to serious health risks, including: 

  • Vomiting
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Decreased respiratory function
  • Overdose or addiction

Statistics on Opioids & Prescription Drugs in Canada

Canada is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Opioid use has been a leading public health and safety concern since 2018. Some additional stats regarding opioid use in Canada include:

  • The rate of emergency department visits for opioid overdoses has doubled for younger adults 
  • 9.6% of Canadian adults who used opioid medications reported some form of problematic use 
  • 22% of Canadians over the age of 15 years old use psychoactive prescription drugs in some form
  • Prescription drug misuse is higher among females (14%) compared to males (9%) 
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Treatment, Support & Recovery

According to a Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction survey, people who are in recovery from addiction almost always do so through recovery programs or community services. 

Programs that are available to people struggling with addiction or substance use problems include:

Recovery Statistics 

Recovery from any addiction is a personal journey that looks different for every patient. To understand what recovery looks like, we pulled together some recent stats about addiction recovery in Canada. Highlights include: 

  • 51.2% reported never relapsing back into active addiction
  • 54.2% reported not experiencing any barriers to recovery
  • For people who reported barriers to recovery, 54.9% of people said it was because they didn’t believe their addiction was severe enough

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact us today. Our team at the Calgary Dream Centre is dedicated to helping people reclaim their life! 

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  • Written by Jim Moore

    CEO/Executive Director, Jim Moore is a founding member of the Calgary Dream Centre. His passion and drive to see lives changed has guided the organization to where it is today. Jim entered the non-profit world after many years of leadership in business, banking, real-estate, and church ministry. During that time he served on a number of boards and his career moved him across Canada from Vancouver to Toronto, and back to Calgary, where he helped found the Calgary Dream Centre. He was president of the Calgary Real Estate Board CREB, and past president of Canada Trust Real Estate Division Canada.

    More Articles by Jim Moore

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