Drug and alcohol abuse has been a growing problem all around the world for millions of people. Canada is no exception. The cost of combating the Canadian drug problem is an expensive one that quickly drains resources and the taxpayers wallet. Not only is the monetary cost high but so is the personal and public health cost. Here are some facts concerning drug use and abuse in Canada.
Drug Use and Abuse in Canada
Drug use and abuse in Canada is a problem that not only ruins the lives of the users and their families, but also costs taxpayers $22.8 billion [PDF Link] per year . This cost is from treatment for drug abusers, as well as hiring additional law enforcement and equipment.
With drug trafficking and production in Canada, the opportunity for its citizens to purchase these drugs and abuse them is extremely high.
Despite the amount of illicit substance in Canada, statistics have shown that drug use has been declining since 2006.
This is good news but the threat that illegal drugs present to Canadian society is still lingering; especially considering the increasing presence of gangs who traffic and produce these drugs.
Canada: The Main Methamphetamine and Ecstasy Producer
Over the past decade, Canada has grown from a minor drug producer to the major supplier of drugs such as ecstasy and methamphetamine in the world. Due to the high production rate of drugs, gang influence in Canada is also on the rise, along with the violence that commonly accompanies these gangs.
Canadian methamphetamine products have been seized in sizeable quantities in countries such as Australia, the United States and even Japan.
In Australia alone, 83% of all methamphetamine seized was traced back to Canadian sources. Ecstasy has been a popular export for Canada to countries such as Japan, the United States, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
Most of the ingredients needed to produce methamphetamine and ecstasy are brought in illegally from China. Other illegal drugs, such as cocaine and heroin are commonly smuggled through the Toronto and Vancouver international airports from Mexico and India.
Although air is still a popular method of transport for these drugs, the path to Canada has slowly been shifted to land-based methods.
Due to the large coastline that Canada has, the government has a difficult time monitoring every access point drug traffickers can use to enter the country.
Canada’s drug laws are also exploited by drug traffickers, which is thought to be the reason behind the rapidly expanding drug trafficking problem.
Diverse Culture Impacts Drug Use
Canada is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, which has led to more demand for drugs that are not commonly used in North America, such as hash, opium and khat.
Introducing new and exotic drugs to people that are not used to them can lead to abuse and overdosing at a higher rate than other drugs.
These drugs also can present a problem for agencies trying to stop these drugs from entering the market. Additional training is required to be able to identify these drugs and to learn about common smuggling methods and their usage.
Commonly Used Drugs in Canada
Cannabis (aka weed, marijuana, pot) – Although cannabis use in Canada has been in a slight decline in the age group of 15-24, it is still a highly popular homegrown drug that is used across Canada. These numbers are expected to change considering Cannabis was made legal in October 2018. It’s usage amongst adults aged 25+, however, has remained steady from 2004 – 2015. The stats below are the most recent ones (Last 3 months of 2018) we have by Statistics Canada:
PS: For those who are trying to quit their dependence on Cannabis, we have an in-depth DIY that shows how to quit weed.
Cocaine – Cocaine use in Canada had a slight jump amongst the 15 – 24 age group in 2008, but since then, it has been in a decline. Cocaine users in the 25+ age group have also been declining in Canada since 2004.
Despite the declining numbers, cocaine is still highly addictive and a popular drug that is smuggled from countries in South and Central America.
Cocaine is a stimulant which has numerous side effects, including but not limited to: paranoia, irregular heartbeat, stroke, lung damage (if smoked), ulcers, kidney failure and even death.
Methamphetamine – Due to the high production of methamphetamine in Canada, there has been a noticeable increase in the crime rate in the area where the drug is produced.
Many users have been found to inject the drug into their system which raises the probability of the user contracting an infection. Methamphetamine is popular with younger people and is also highly addictive.
The side effects of methamphetamine abuse can be drastic: weight loss, psychosis, cerebral hemorrhage, long-term brain damage and death are just some of the side effects associated with methamphetamine abuse.
Ecstasy – Ecstasy is a very popular drug amongst the younger population and is one the of the drugs highly produced in Canada.
Ecstasy is a drug that can be easily abused and can lead to liver, kidney or cardiovascular system failure and can even kill.
Heroin and other opiates – While other drugs such as heroin and other opiates are present in Canadian society, their usage has stayed steady.
Heroin and opiates are highly addictive and dangerous drugs that many Canadians struggle with, and is one of the main “problem prescription drugs” countries all over the world have been trying to deal with, in terms of treatment.
Does Canada Have A Drug Problem?
With Canada having lead the world in the production of methamphetamine and ecstasy and synthetic drugs, its citizens and government will have to deal with the side effects of the growing illegal drug industry.
An increase of gang violence, drug seizures and other crimes will steadily increase until proper laws are put into effect to stem the tide of ingredients and drugs entering Canada.
With the extremely large coastline and land area to cover, this job of eliminating drug trafficking will not be an easy one.
It’s not all doom and gloom though regarding the problematic substance use and addiction in Canada. Despite the increase in drug trafficking and production, numbers have shown a decline in use of illegal drugs across all age groups.
Although this does not mean Canada is out of the woods concerning substance abuse, it does give us hope that Canadian citizens are being properly educated about the physical and mental health addiction related dangers of drug abuse and are taking those lessons to heart.
For more facts & figures related to drug use in Canada, we recommend the Government of Canada’s page on the topic.