Substance use costs Canadian society almost $38.4 billion a year or $1,100 for every person in the country, according to new research. Alcohol and tobacco use account for 70 per cent of these costs and opioids ranked a distant third. These costs have been increasing in recent years.
Opioid use not the biggest cost
Overdose deaths involving the use of opioids have increased dramatically across Canada and have grabbed the news headlines. That obscures the reality revealed by this study from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the University of Victoria.
The study of costs and harms span four areas: health care, lost production, criminal justice and other direct costs. The substances studied were alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, opioids, depressants, stimulants, cocaine and other substances such as hallucinogens and inhalants. The time period studied was from 2007 to 2014.
Information helps make decisions
The biggest cost was to lost productivity followed by health care and then criminal justice.
Researchers say this information will be particularly useful to policy makers now that recreational use of cannabis has been legalized and the country is dealing with an opioid crisis.