It’s no secret that substance abuse is a major problem in Canada. But do you know the shocking numbers of drug related deaths in Canada?
At issue is not just the problem of abuse, but the increasing number of deaths that occur as a result of inappropriate or illegal drug use, both for street drugs and for prescribed drugs that are misappropriated and/or misused.
Drug related deaths in Canada per year have reached 47,000 and that number is growing.
According to a publication by the Health Officers Council of British Columbia back in 2007, there were 47,000 deaths yearly in Canada.
The number is also said to be growing rapidly. We are now in 2016. Imagine how much that number must have grown.
Most Abused Drugs in Canada
Prescription opioid medications – Unlike illegal street drugs, prescription opioid medications have a legitimate place in medicine. They are very effective at treating acute and chronic pain; they are also very effective at controlling pain for those that are terminally ill.
Canada has become the second largest consumer of prescription opioids, second only to the United States, and with a 203% increase in usage between 2000 and 2010.
That increase is greater than that of the United States, in spite of the US’s first place ranking for opioid use.
Harmful Street Drugs in Canada
Cocaine – Cocaine is a major central nervous system stimulant. In the short term, it causes euphoria and feelings of physical and intellectual power and focus. It reduces appetite, fatigue, and pain, and increases energy.
However, this euphoria and energy come with a price. Cocaine causes intense contraction of most blood vessels.
This can cause high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat, which can lead to stroke or heart attack. It becomes even more dangerous when users mixed with alcohol, sedatives, or other street drugs like heroin. Cocaine deaths per year are staggering numbers as well!
Heroin – Although less popular in recent years, heroin has begun to make a resurgence in Canada. One of the reasons is that it’s cheap – $10 a “bundle,” which can keep users high for several hours.
This makes it a popular alternative to expensive prescription drugs like OxyContin. It can be injected, inhaled, or snorted.
Methamphetamine – Methamphetamine, or meth, is a stimulant drug that produces an intense rush. It can become instantly addictive because it releases very high levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Initially, users become euphoric and high, energetic, and wakeful.
It’s unique because unlike most other drugs, it can easily be made at home using easy to find substances like those found in cold medications.
However, the result is dangerous not just because of the effects of the drug itself but because manufacturers often use dangerous ingredients like paint thinner, drain cleaner, or ammonia in the manufacturing process.
With addiction, heart rate and blood pressure increase and stay high, which can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including the brain. This ultimately can result in death from cardiovascular collapse because of irregular heartbeat or strokes.
The massive increase in dopamine also appears to damage brain cells, which reduces the amount of dopamine available to the brain. Symptoms similar to other dopamine-deficient diseases like Parkinson’s disease, and/or severe depression can result.
Best Way to Prevent Drug Related Death in Canada
Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs
Our Toronto drug rehab centre rehabilitation program offers patients the ability to get clean in a structured environment.
Treatment is structured to each patient’s needs and often includes medical detox and support in addition to intensive cognitive therapy that teaches addicts to handle the anxiety and depression that may come with recovery, and to handle life’s pressures without escaping through drugs.
There are many locations for those seeking alcohol rehab around Toronto.
Narcotics Anonymous is a program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous with its traditional 12 step approach. Established in 1953, the only requirement to join is “a desire to stop using.”
The organization operates through peer support, whereby group members who are recovering from addiction and currently are clean sponsor and assist those who wish to stop using.
NA describes addiction as a progressive disease with no cure, but one that can be managed.
Health Canada’s role in reducing Canadian deaths from drugs per year
Health Canada participates in the labeling and approval of new and existing drugs, but is the government doing enough to prevent Canadian deaths from drugs per year? Provinces create their own wars.
Some say that that Public Health Agency of Canada could do more to prevent substance abuse and prescription opioid abuse especially.
Prescription drug death prevention: First Do No Harm
In partnership with Canadian Center on Substance Abuse, the National Advisory Council on Prescription Drug Abuse released a 10 year strategy in 2013 called First Do No Harm: Responding to Canada’s Prescription Drug Crisis.
This strategy seeks to address the harm prescription drugs do in Canada by facilitating prevention, treatment, surveillance, monitoring, education, and enforcement.
First Do No Harm recommendations
First Do No Harm has developed recommendations around the following five areas of action: monitoring and surveillance, treatment, education, prevention, and enforcement.
In addition, research, legislation and regulations, and evaluation and performance measurements related to the strategy will also be measured.
Illegal drugs can be addictive and can damage your mind and body, sometimes permanently.
If you or someone you know is using illegal drugs, you need to get help as soon as possible. Contact us today to talk to one of our addiction specialists.