Every year, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) leads Canada in National Addictions Awareness Week. Organizations from all over the country participate by holding events, blogging, tweeting and writing for national media outlets. It’s a chance for the whole country to learn more about addiction, treatment and recovery, while working to break the stigma of this shame-based disease. The theme this year is “Addiction Matters”, which really drills down to the heart of things. Addiction does matter to all of us; even if you don’t know it, addiction affects you. Here are the stats:
Only 10% of Canadians who meet the criteria for a substance use disorder access publicly funded services. Approximately 1.5 million Canadians meet the criteria. Around 143,000 access these services. That means that there about 1.35 million Canadians who need help but aren’t getting it. There are a lot of reasons someone might not access treatment; they’re not ready, they don’t believe they have a problem, the wait list is too long, they don’t have the money, they are ashamed, etc. But the bottom line is that there are 1.35 million Canadians and their families who are suffering right now from a treatable disease where long-term recovery is possible.
The total societal cost of substance abuse is 39.8 billion dollars. Or $1297.00 per Canadian. Whether the cost comes from lost productivity in the workplace, increased cost to our healthcare system or pressure on our law enforcement agencies, substance use disorders cost money.
Canadians are dying. Substance use disorders can be progressive and fatal if left untreated. In fact, 47,000 deaths are linked to substance abuse every year. Women are vulnerable; those who use drugs are 54% more likely than men to die prematurely due to drug use. If you’ve been following the stories on fentanyl, than you know we’re seeing a frightening rise in opioid-related deaths. In the last 20 years, these deaths have increase by 242% in Ontario.
By bringing awareness to substance abuse with events like National Addictions Awareness Week, we can bring this disease to the forefront in Canada. It affects us all, and it’s time we prioritized those suffering. Addiction matters.