The most complete report available on drug use statistics in Canada
Canadian Profile 1999, published jointly by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, is an indispensable reference tool for anyone working or studying in the field of substance abuse. The Profile's statistical tables and accompanying analyses provide an accurate and up-to-date look at consumption patterns, mortality and morbidity trends, economic impact, crime, and the law related to the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
The declining trend in alcohol sales observed throughout the 1980s and 1990s did not continue in 1996-97. Sales expressed in terms of absolute alcohol increased from 7.4 litres per person in 1995-96 to 7.6 litres per person in 1996-97, the first increase to occur since the early 1980s. According to the 1996-97 National Population Health Survey (NPHS), 42.1% of past-year drinkers reported consuming five or more drinks on a single occasion (6.2% did so on a weekly basis), 23.4% exceeded the low-risk guidelines for alcohol consumption and 2.5% reported drinking at levels associated with clinical dependence on alcohol.
According to the 1993 General Social Survey (GSS), nearly one in 10 adult Canadians (9.2%) reported having problems with their drinking. The most common problems affect physical health (5.1%) and financial position (4.7%). Also, 43.9% say they have had problems from other people's drinking, such as being disturbed by loud parties (23.8%), being insulted or humiliated (20.9%) and having serious arguments (15.6%).
It is estimated that 6,503 Canadians (4,681 men and 1,823 women) lost their lives as a result of alcohol consumption in 1995, and 80,946 were hospitalized (51,765 men and 29,181 women) due to alcohol in 1995-96.
Motor vehicle accidents, alcohol liver cirrhosis and suicide accounted for the largest number of alcohol-related deaths, while accidental falls, alcohol dependence syndrome and motor vehicle accidents accounted for the largest number of alcohol-related hospitalizations.
Impaired driving is a major cause of death; among fatally injured drivers in 1996, 42% had some alcohol in their blood and 35% were over the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
In 1996-97, 28.6% of Canadian aged 15 years or older smoked cigarettes. Rates of use were highest among those aged 20-24 (35.1%) and lowest among those aged 75 or older (11.2%). The prevalence of daily smoking among youth increased substantially based on the age of respondents, from 0.5% among youth aged 10-12 to 22.2% among youth aged 18-19, according to the 1994 Survey on Youth Smoking.
In 1997, tobacco sales in Canada decreased by approximately 5.8% from 1996. Consumption per person aged 15 or older in Canada was 2,144 cigarettes in 1997, and the average number of cigarettes consumed by current smokers was 10.6 per day.
One in six deaths in Canada is caused by smoking. In 1995, there were 34,728 deaths and 500,345 years of potential life lost due to tobacco use in Canada.
There were 191,922 hospital separations attributed to tobacco in 1995-96, accounting for 7.6% of total hospital separations in Canada.
According to the 1996-97 National Population Health Survey (NPHS), more than one in 10 Canadians (11.6%) used prescription medication in the previous month. The highest prevalence of use was in British Columbia (15.0%) and the lowest in Newfoundland (6.2%).
Opioid analgesics were used by 4.7% of Canadians aged 15 or older, antidepressants by 3.6%, sleeping pills by 3.5%, tranquillizers by 2.7%, steroids by 0.8% and diet pills by 0.5%.
In 1994, the top three therapeutic classes of drug prescriptions were cardiovascular drugs, accounting for 12.7% (28.5 million prescriptions) of all prescriptions, followed by systemic anti-infective drugs (12.1%, or 28.1 million prescriptions) and psychotherapeutic drugs (9.7%, or 22.6 million prescriptions).
In 1994, the most commonly reported drugs used on a lifetime and past-year basis were cannabis (23.1% and 7.4%, respectively); LSD, speed or heroin (5.9% and 1.1%); and cocaine (3.8% and 0.7%).
Although current national data are not available, past-year cannabis use increased from 4.2% in 1993 to 7.4% in 1994. Use of cocaine and LSD, speed or heroin showed negligible increases.
Rates of illicit drug use in 1994 varied significantly by region. In most instances, drug use was highest in British Columbia and lowest in Newfoundland.
In 1997, Canadian drug enforcement agencies seized 244,949 kg of marijuana, 439.6 kg of cocaine and 10.5 kg of heroin.
In 1995, there were 804 deaths (695 men and 108 women) in Canada attributable to illicit drugs. Suicides (329 deaths) and opiate poisoning (160 deaths) accounted for almost two-thirds of all drug-related deaths. The 804 deaths resulted in 33,669 potential years of life lost. In 1995-96 there were 6,947 hospitalizations attributable to illicit drugs.
Special PopulationsIndigenous Canadians
Indigenous Canadians are at particular risk of substance abuse. The majority of Aboriginal Canadians smoke, youth are at two to six times greater risk for alcohol problems than other Canadians, and Indigenous Canadians have relatively high rates of illicit drug use.Street Youth
Compared with mainstream adolescents, street youth report elevated rates of heavy drinking and illicit drug use. Between one-quarter and one-half report frequent heavy drinking. As well, the percentage using cannabis ranges from 66% to 88%, while the percentage using cocaine ranges from 18% to 64%.
From 1977 to the end of 1997, more than 40,000 Canadians have tested positive for HIV, and 15,527 have been diagnosed with AIDS. Adjusted for reporting delays, it is estimated that more than 20,000 Canadians have contracted the disease.
Estimates of the number of injection drug users in Canada vary from 50,000 to 100,000, with high numbers in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. These drug users are at a high risk of HIV infection and AIDS. There are indications that the seroprevalence rate among injection drug users is increasing, particularly among injection drug users in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.
The role of injection drug use as a cause of AIDS is increasing. It was identified as the primary risk factor in approximately one in seven AIDS cases in 1997, and a conservative estimate is that about one in five AIDS cases was related to injection drug use in some way. Injection drug use is a primary means by which the AIDS epidemic has spread to the heterosexual population.
There is generally a strong public support for current alcohol control policies and intervention efforts. Most Canadians feel that current alcohol tax levels are appropriate, that the legal drinking age should not be changed, that current operating hours for alcohol outlets should not be changed, and that alcoholic beverages should not be sold in convenience stores. The majority favour increased prevention, treatment and server intervention programming.
However, the level of support for these alcohol control measures and interventions decreased between 1989 and 1994. Older Canadians and women tend to favour more restrictive alcohol policies and increased government funding for prevention and treatment.
A majority of young and old Canadians view smoking as addictive and dangerous to one's health. A majority of adolescents do not view smoking as "cool," or as helping a person to stay slim. However, a substantial minority of younger and older Canadians still maintain that occasional smoking is not risky, that smokers can quit any time they want, and that health is damaged only after smoking for many years.
The majority of legislators in all provinces and territories support government regulation of cigarette advertising, regulation of tobacco as a hazardous product, strong penalties for selling tobacco to minors, price increases for cigarettes and stronger efforts to discourage youth from starting to smoke. Support was mixed regarding bans on smoking in workplaces, prohibition of sponsorship of cultural events by tobacco companies, and holding manufacturers liable for smokers' suffering and health care costs.
More than one-quarter of Canadians (27%) feel that possession of small amounts of cannabis should be legal; 42% feel that possession should be against the law, but subject to either no penalty or a fine only for a first offence; and only 17% favour the current policy whereby a first offender is subject to a potential jail sentence. The remaining 14% have no opinion. Support for a more liberal cannabis policy is strongest among males, younger Canadians and British Columbians.
Much of our information concerning workplace substance abuse comes from studies in the U.S. and other countries. About one in five Canadian workers drinks at some time in the workplace, and fewer than 1% report ever using illicit drugs at work. Substance abuse causes workplace problems due to the impairing effects of alcohol and other drugs, and the lower productivity of chronic or dependent users. Impairment from alcohol and other drugs is a major cause of unemployment and absenteeism, and alcohol impairment causes a significant number of workplace accidents.
Lower-status workers, young persons and males are most likely to experience a workplace problem due to their use of alcohol or other drugs. Workers in particular industries are especially prone to use alcohol or drugs on the job. Aspects of the work environment such as stress, organizational and co-worker norms, and ready availability will influence levels of alcohol and drug use on the job.
Annual productivity losses in Canada due to substance Abuse have been estimated at $4.1 billion for alcohol, $6.8 billion for tobacco and $823.1 million for illicit drugs. Taken together, all forms of substance abuse account for $11.8 billion in productivity losses, representing 1.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP), or $414 per capita.
The alcohol industry registered sales of more than $11.38 billion in 1996-97, providing employment for more than 14,000 persons in the alcohol industry and generating $3.34 billion in revenue for provincial governments as well as considerable federal revenue. The average Canadian spent $496 for alcoholic beverages - $268 on beer, $98 on wine and $130 on spirits.
The alcohol market continues to become more and more international. Despite continued high sales of exported Canadian spirits and increased exports of Canadian beer, the value of imported alcohol exceeded the value of exports for the first time in 1995-96.
Although tobacco products generated more than $3.94 billion in revenue in 1996-97, the federal and provincial governments have forgone more than $2 billion a year since the tobacco tax reductions of 1994. Revenue has declined by 36% since 1991-92 when tobacco taxation produced $6.18 billion in government revenue.
The pharmaceutical industry employs more than 20,000 persons, and the domestic market for pharmaceuticals is valued at more than $6.19 billion.
Substance abuse cost more than $18.4 billion to the Canadian economy in 1992, representing 2.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in that year. Tobacco accounts for $9.6 billion of these costs, alcohol $7.5 billion and illicit drugs $1.4 billion. There is considerable provincial variation in the economic costs of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs.
In 1993, there were 194,916 liquor act offences and 111,727 adults charged for liquor act offences in Canada. These offences represent 63% of all provincial offences (excluding traffic offences).
In 1996, there were more than 95,000 federal drinking and driving offences. Although impaired driving remains one of the most common crimes committed by Canadians, the rate of impaired driving offences has declined by an average of 4% per year over the past decade.
In 1996 there were 65,106 drug offences - an increase of 5.6% over the previous year. Cannabis was involved in 72% of these offences, while cocaine and heroin offences accounted for an additional 17% and 2%, respectively. Of those cases (not including cannabis cases) reaching disposition, 71% of those charged were convicted and 61% of the convictions resulted in jail terms. Drug offences account for 3% of adult admissions to federal correctional facilities and 6% of adult admissions to provincial correctional facilities.