A new report released by Angus Reid has found that Canada may be dealing with an extremely serious opioid crisis and that many Canadians are being prescribed opioid-based drugs.
The report found that “One-in-eight (12%) – the equivalent of nearly 3.5 million Canadian adults – say they have close friends or family members who have become dependent on opioids in the last five years.”
This is a worrying amount as the poll further found that one-in-five Canadian adults (19%) say they have personally been prescribed opioids in the last five years.
Lack of government action
Both Canada’s federal and provincial governments have developed strategies for responding to the opioid epidemic but for the most part, critics have described the federal response so far as poor.
In fact, the report found that relatively few Canadians see the federal government responding “appropriately” to the issue. Fewer than one-in-four (23%) say this, while nearly four-in-ten (38%) say “too few” federal resources have been allocated to the epidemic.
The federal government must change its tone and begin to act on this crises or else risk losing a generation of Canadians to drug addiction.
Jordan Westfall, the president of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs, said in a Globe and Mail article that he believes most Canadians think addiction is an issue that only affects other people.
“I think that it does show that awareness of the epidemic itself is very high, but I think that those results also show that there is still that sense of ‘othering,’ that ‘no one in my family’ is using opioids,” he said.
In reality, a large number of Canadians are experiencing the social and personal fall out associated with opioids.
This real crisis requires an immediate response from all levels of government.