The number of people who use drugs and alcohol has fallen in Canada for the first time in more than a decade, according to a new survey.
And while many still consider it a health problem, the numbers have shown a slight rise in recent years.
But that’s not necessarily good news for the thousands of Canadians who use illicit drugs every year, which is why the Globe AndMail is asking Canadians to look at their lives and think about how they’re spending their money.
The Globe and Mail surveyed a representative sample of 1,500 Canadians, aged 15 and older, to see what their priorities were, how much they were spending and how they plan to spend their money in the future.
“It’s the first big poll to show the trend of drug use is back, and it’s the only poll that shows that, at least among people who have been using drugs,” said Dan Rinaldi, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.
The findings were released Thursday by a coalition of anti-drug groups that is trying to get people to get off drugs.
It includes the Canadian Federation of Students and Drug Policy Alliance.
“The reality is that there’s been a very big decline in the use of alcohol, cigarettes, illicit drugs, prescription drugs and tobacco over the last 20 years.
It’s been one of the biggest changes for the entire country,” Rinald said.”
I don’t think that we’re going to see a big increase in the number of overdoses or deaths as a result of that.”
The Globe Andampolises findings are based on data from the 2014-15 Canadian Community Health Survey, conducted by the Canada Health Department and Statistics Canada.
The survey is conducted by random telephone interviews of people across the country.
The survey found the percentage of Canadians saying they were using drugs in the last month was down from 69 per cent in 2001-02 to 56 per cent last year.
It also found the proportion of Canadians reporting they were drinking alcohol in the past month fell from 59 per cent to 51 per cent.
The Canadian public was more likely to say they were smoking cigarettes in the previous month than binge drinking, according the survey.
The percentage of people saying they binge drank in the same month dropped from 43 per cent, to 37 per cent as well.
While overall drug use has fallen, there’s a sharp increase in alcohol use among people aged 15 to 24.
In the last year, that number rose from 26 per cent among those aged 25 to 34 to 36 per cent at age 45 and 45 to 54 per cent by age 55 and older.
The report said the drop in the percentage reporting that they binge drink has coincided with an increase in binge drinking in youth, with the number reporting binge drinking more than doubling from 17 per cent of those aged 15-24 in 2015-16 to 34 per cent this year.
The percentage reporting binge consuming alcohol also increased, from 9 per cent for people aged 25-34 to 17 per, from 19 per, to 20 per, and from 24 per, with 16 per, up from 15 per, in 2015.
The study found people who binge drink are more likely than others to report problems with their health, such as alcohol addiction and substance abuse, depression and anxiety.
Rinaldi said there’s also a lot of work to be done in terms of prevention and treatment, especially for those who use opioids.
“We don’t know enough about the link between substance abuse and substance use, so we don’t have the right tools at our disposal to prevent and treat that,” he said.
Rationale for the riseIn a statement, the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse said people should not underestimate the harm of illicit drug use and use.
“This new report confirms that Canadians are more concerned about the use and misuse of illicit drugs and illegal drugs, and that this is a problem that we should be working to solve.
Our government has taken bold action on substance use in recent decades, such that now, it’s less likely to be caught by the police and prosecuted for drug use,” said Paul Blomberg, the executive director at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
“It’s important that Canadians have the confidence to take responsibility for themselves and their families, and to support their friends and partners in managing drug use.”
The centre also pointed out the need for better education on the effects of illicit use and drug use on individuals.
“People who are struggling with drug or alcohol use or substance use disorders should be aware of the risks and benefits of treatment and treatment-seeking behaviors,” Blomborg said.