In the summer of 2022, the Canadian government decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cocaine, heroin, and other narcotics. The Canadian government continues to do everything to fight against opioids, besides increasing treatment options, such as detox, rehab, and aftercare support.
Drug addiction is a growing problem in the country. Since 2016, an estimated 27,000 people have died from drug use.
Decriminalization means that the person will not be charged for possession. The drugs are not legal, which means that, ideally, they should be encouraged or sent to drug rehab, but this does not always happen.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in the unregulated drug supply in the country. Urinalysis reports have shown that cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and amphetamine accounted for most of the stimulant use in the country.
Fentanyl was detected most often in British Columbia and Thunder Bay and was least detected in Manitoba and Nova Scotia. In addition, there was an increase in unregulated benzodiazepine use across the country.
Illegal drugs are a significant problem in Canada, especially opioids. Since 2016, there have been more than 9,000 apparent opioid-related deaths. In 2017, roughly 11 lives were lost each day because of opioid overdose.
Detox, drug rehab, and aftercare support are the best approaches to treating opioid addiction and dependency. Unfortunately, many parts of Canada are relying on harm reduction. While it may reduce some social harms, it does not adequately provide people access to drug rehabilitation.
Prevention and education remain the best option to prevent drug and alcohol addiction. In addition, it remains the most cost-effective approach.
Prevention programs and campaigns reduce the demand on an already strained system while reducing the cost of substance use within society.
However, it does not trump the need for treatment and rehabilitation. In Canada, the provinces and territories are responsible for providing public drug rehabilitation. Yet, access to public drug rehab is limited, and there are often long wait times.
Significant stigma is still attached to drug and alcohol addiction, especially injection drug use. Stigma mainly affects people affected by poverty and homelessness. In addition, discrimination is associated with illicit substance use, which restricts individuals’ access to certain types of healthcare.
The social costs are also significant. Substance use has costly health, community, and economic impacts, placing an economic burden on the public. The combination of crime and addiction in Canada costs taxpayers billions each year.
The perceptions of drug use in the country are changing. Reports have shown there are variations in societal perceptions surrounding drug use. Over the last ten years, there have been increases in perceptions of the seriousness of medical and illicit drug use.
However, knowing the risks does not stop people from using drugs. These are the problems that must be addressed through prevention, education, rehabilitation, and community aftercare support.