Canada, as does the rest of the world is plagued by tragic drug use and addiction. Figures are becoming more worrisome as years go by and according to the latest counts about 5% of the world’s 7.2 billion population have used illicit substances and about 30 million are dangerously addicted to narcotics right up to the point of needing treatment, while 240 million people have risky drinking habits and almost 15 million use injectable drugs. The simple fact we are talking about millions and millions shows just how detrimental the situation is at the moment.
Various substances such as drugs, alcohol or tobacco are used by many of us to relax, have fun, experiment or cope with various life experiences and stress. Yet, the line can many times be so thin between casually using and collapsing into problematic use and addiction.
The latest Global Drug Survey looked at 120,000 people from across 25 countries, including 5,400 Canadians. Out of these, 68% were male and 32% were females with a median age of 29 years old. Over 64% of them were employed, while almost 30% were students. What almost half of them (47.6%) had in common was having a habit of going clubbing at least every three months.
It’s jarring to learn that almost all respondents (99.7%) have used a legal drug at least once in their lifetime, while approximately 80% of them are said to having tried illicit substances. Moreover, over half of them report having done that in last year or even the previous month. In a ranking of lifetime drug use among all respondents, alcohol consumption exceeded all other substances use by a significant difference, scoring about 99%. On a more optimistic finding, 40% of Canadian participants have expressed a desire to start drinking less and over 16% admitted to needing help with this.
After alcohol, cannabis (60%), cocaine (19.1%) and MDMA (19%) made up 2017’s top five substance usage at a global level. If we were to round-up the total number of days during which respondents used marijuana throughout a year, it would be the equivalent of just over four months and a half. With Canada becoming the first wealthy nation in the world to fully legalize marijuana in 2018 and the U.S. being infamous already for the nine states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 29 states that allow it for health purposes, it’s not that surprising that almost 22% of American respondents and almost 15% of Canadian ones are leading the way when it comes to ‘wake and bake’ – smoking a joint within 5 minutes/1 hours of waking up.
However interestingly enough when asked if they consider governments should regulate weed just like they do with alcohol, almost 76% of respondents from all countries agreed with almost half of them (45%) stating they would prefer it if private companies would do the selling. This shows that people around the globe are aware of the threat posed by drugs being sold on the black market at higher prices and with higher risks. On the bright side: over 30% of marijuana users in Canada said they aim to use less in 2018 and almost 13% acknowledge that they would like and need support with this.
Cocaine, which scored after cannabis in terms of usage has kept its position as the drug of choice for the wealthy. It is considered to be the most expensive drug anywhere in the world, excluding South America. According to Canadian respondents’ answers, the total amount of time in a year spent snorting cocaine equated to a mean of 21.3 days. More than any other substance usage, almost 56% of Canadians say they would like to use less and shockingly, just 11% think they need support in quitting.
In the last 10 years, Canada has slowly but surely become a major supplier of heavy illicit drugs such as ecstasy and methamphetamines to the rest of the world. The high levels of production have been a direct factor in the escalating numbers of Canadians gangs and community violence. Considerable quantities of Canadian methamphetamine have been seized in Australia, the U.S. and even Japan, while ecstasy has been a popular export in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
Last but not least in the top five comes MDMA, one of the most popular illicit drugs around the world mainly used y by people attending electronic music parties and festivals. Consuming crystals and powder has been growing in popularity in the last couple of years, growing from 0.6% in 2014 to 1.2% in 2017. The latest rise in the content of MDMA in ecstasy pills witnessed across Europe also shifted habits of every users, regardless where they are from.
Drug misuse and abuse are the major contributors to preventable premature mortality. People who use drugs are up to 10 times more likely to experience sudden death that people who don’t use at all. It’s crucial to seek help at the earliest signs of falling into addiction, even if it happens, it’s never too late to get the support needed. Drug addiction is an illness and it should be addressed as such. Exactly like many diseases, it’s not always visible or obvious with many users not even being aware a problem exists. It may be those extra beers, a much too frequent thought about smoking another joint or a desperate craving for another line. It’s hard to fight against biological responses without any help whatsoever. And this is an aspect many fail to recognize when passing judgment on others who were unfortunate enough to develop a dependence to substances.
Luckily, Canada is one of the countries that excels at fighting drug addiction. Not only it actively supports the community with supervised sites for people, but through the work of rehabilitation centres dedicated to achieving recovery and giving users their lives back.