A study released on 26 June shows that Canadians paid for substance use $38.4 billion in 2014. The report was done by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. They examined the data and estimated how substance use affected health, justice, loss of productivity and other costs.
Even though researchers acknowledged that Canadians are in the middle of the opioid crisis, the study shows that two-thirds of substance use costs were represented by alcohol and tobacco.
The first four largest costs for substance use were: alcohol – $14.6 billion, tobacco – $12 billion, opioids – $3.5 billion and marijuana – $2.8 billion.
Alcohol Use is “Costing Canadian Society”
Matthew Young is a senior research and policy analyst at the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (Ottawa), warning that they must pay attention to alcohol too:
“While we do need to pay attention to the opioid crisis, while we do need to think very carefully as we move toward legalizing recreational cannabis, we shouldn’t forget about alcohol because it’s around and it’s costing Canadian society.”
The report shows that a person would have spent $369 for alcohol in 2007, and in 2014 it jumped to $412. It also found that in 2014, alcohol use made 14,827 victims (the average age was 65 years). Tobacco caused more deaths – 47,562, at an average of 74 years. Cannabis caused 8,851 deaths, while opioids cause 2,396 deaths (average age of 45 years).
Young saw that with the increase in substance use after 2014, the economic and death impact on the population would increase, and the opioid overdose crisis will have a say in the statistics. He also added that researchers would investigate if the data changes as soon as marijuana use becomes legal in Canada this fall.
It’s Cheap and Easy to Buy – But It Takes a Toll on the Population
He explains that “we have, as a culture, been moving towards greater availability and cheaper prices for alcohol. We shouldn’t lose sight of some of the substances we take for granted that are intertwined with our regular lives because they do still exact a toll.”
Since 2014, Ontario and British Columbia have had relaxed restrictions on alcohol sales, and that they might see an increase in harm related to alcohol and costs.
Tim Stockwell is the report co-author and director with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria, added that “most people would be surprised to know that alcohol and tobacco are killing ten times more people than the other illicit drugs combined.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere