It does not require much research to see the destructive nature of substance use disorder in our current society. Over time, the widespread distribution of illicit and non-illicit drugs and the legalization of some controlled substances have contributed to the bulk of the sorrow in today’s families. Additionally, it has affected the field of detoxification & rehabilitation, resulting in puzzled city and law officials. With more and more addiction problems surfacing, solutions are being demanded.
One such solution is the needle exchange program where drug users can have a clean needle preventing, to some degree, the spreading of infectious diseases. Officials in many major cities across Canada have permitted the establishment of reserved spaces so drug users can shoot up in a safe environment. These are known as harm reduction solutions, which demanded some changes in legislation.
In 2022, UNODC (United Nations Office Drug and Crime) estimated that 284 million people aged 15 to 64 used drugs in 2020. It represents a 26% increase over the previous decade. Cannabis, legalized and regulated in 2018, remained the most used drug in Canada. Cannabis use rose from 15% in 2017 to 21% in 2019. The use of opioids has increased by 12 % from 2017 to 2019.
In the United States, where they legalized cannabis, car crashes with injuries increased by nearly 6%, while fatal crashes rose by 4%. These rises in crashes were not seen in states that hadn’t legalized marijuana. At the same time, Boston University reports that “the percentage of car crash deaths in the United States involving cannabis has doubled” from 2000 to 2018. Driving under the influence in Canada went from 26.3 in 2016 to 17.6 in 2020 and was the third highest contributing factor in fatal collisions on the road.
In the workplace, drugs account for a high absenteeism rate, theft, and accidents-proneness. Substance use has negative influences on work performance. According to the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse, an estimated $11.8 million in productivity is lost annually because of substance misuse in Canada.
Alcohol and other drugs make it difficult to complete job-related tasks and responsibilities. During the pandemic, 34 percent of those using alcohol and twenty-five percent of drug users reported increasing their consumption. An estimated 14 percent of workers using alcohol or drugs called in sick at least once a week.
In 2021, drug-related offences were down. In 2017, the highest rate of arrest was for the possession of cannabis. There were 90,625 arrests across Canada, and 42 percent were for cannabis possession (38,498 arrests).
According to 150 Statcan, the total cannabis offences rose from 2020 to 2021 from 12,790 to 13,560, respectively. Cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids, and heroin are still responsible for a great number of the arrest. In all cases, arrest for possession trumps the ones for trafficking.
Is there a solution? Legalizing drugs unburdens our legal system but does not unburden families with addiction, unfortunately.
Of course, a problem of such magnitude could be considered unmanageable. Studies on substance use disorder are ongoing, and many different opinions exist. But undeniably, people suffer from it, and it costs society a great deal of money and hardship. Spending more money educating and addressing the existing generation could alleviate the circumstance.