We all know how drugs can affect the lives of individuals who get addicted to them. Bearing in mind the destructive and deadly nature of addiction, imagine what a drug epidemic can do to a country!
With thousands of people falling into the trap of addiction every year, Canada is facing a large-scale public health concern. Millions of Canadian dollars are spent yearly to combat the international drug epidemic, yet still thousands of lives are lost. The overall quality of life in countries largely affected by the drug epidemic like Canada and the US has increasingly declined. Adequate mental health facilities are underfunded and many blame the government for not providing a functional and effective healthcare system for its citizens. If the problem isn’t contained, the ongoing drug epidemic could eventually lead to political, social and civil unrest. Nowadays, the general sentiment is that drug policies approved by the government are inadequate at best.
The fact is the ongoing international opioid drug epidemic has the potential to completely destabilize an entire country.
Canada has been dealing with the “war on drugs” for a long time now. In 1993, an investigation by the chief coroner in the district of British Columbia identified 330 drug-related deaths as “inordinately high.” By 2017, the number of deaths soared to 1473 deaths in BC alone and the overall count for drug-related deaths in the country was 3996. This year in 2019, 1082 fatalities relating of drug overdose have been reported.
The statistics are truly alarming and demonstrate the need for immediate and perhaps radical measures to be taken in an effort to control or at least reduce the ongoing drug epidemic in Canada. One of the scary facts on the Canadian drug epidemic is that a high percentage of cases of drug addiction stem from doctor-prescribed medications which lead to dependency.
In 2019 there were 3987 opioid-related deaths in Canada out of which 92% were unintentional. A high percentage of Canadians get hooked to these drugs as a result of legal prescription.
What is the Opioid Epidemic?
You’ve probably heard the term “opioid epidemic” thrown around in the news and debated on various media outlets. Most people are still unclear about what it actually is and what individual as well as collective level repercussions it can have on the citizens of Canada. The opioid epidemic refers to the rapidly-increasing number of deaths related to prescribed, as well as illicit use of opioids. The opioid epidemic started gaining notoriety in 2010 as opioid based substances flooded the market. However, the factors that aggravated the situation to the point of turning it into an epidemic started way before 2010.
So, what are opioids anyway? Well, opioids refer to a classification of drugs that are either derived from or are a synthetic version of opium. Morphine is a common opioid that most people are all familiar with. For years, it has been used as a pain-reliever. With the advancement in the medical sciences and pharmacy, we managed to create other opioids like methadone and even synthetic forms of medical grade heroin.
Today, opioids are largely used as painkillers. Some common examples of opioids that you may be familiar with include Codeine, Demerol, Dilaudid, Oxycodone, Tramadol, etc. Other forms of opioids like heroin are now illegal to produce and distribute.
Due to the highly addictive nature of opioids and the way the substance alters the brain, a number of people get addicted to these painkillers. The addiction problem often comes to light only when it’s time to stop using the prescribed drugs. By that time, it can become difficult to get clean, which involves going through severe withdrawal symptoms. This is when most people turn to illicit drugs like heroin and from there; which usually leads to a quick downfall. It is estimated that around 80% of people who end up using heroin start off with a prescription opioid based drug.
Measures to Control Drug Epidemic
The drug epidemic in Canada has touched lives all around the country. It has had devastating effects on individuals, families, and communities. We feel it’s important to take measures to control and/or eliminate the drug epidemic by becoming proactive and advocating for prevention programs and legal reform..
In 2016, the Government of Canada launched the first country-wide effort to put an end to the drug epidemic. The Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis led to the formation of Canadian Drugs and Substance Strategy (CDSS), which is a four-pillar approach to tackle the addiction problem in the country. The four pillars are prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and enforcement.
Measures are being taken on the national as well as provincial levels. In the 2017 budget, an investment of CAD $100 million was announced by the Government of Canada over 5 years to tackle the national opioid crisis. Another CAD $22.7 million was set for CDSS.
Safe injection sites, which are medically supervised facilities for the use of opioids have already surfaced all across the country. The harm reduction approach is also focused on obtaining and spreading information about drugs, counseling, treatment referrals, access to medical staff, etc. The government of Canada is making a serious and earnest effort to control the drug epidemic. However, its important to involve yourself. Its starts by understanding what you can do to help.
What Can You Do?
While the drug epidemic is an international crisis, every individual has the ability to play a part in helping the effort to eliminating it. While the government is taking actions at the national and provincial levels, every Canadian citizen has some responsibility too. Whether you are hooked to drugs or know someone who has fallen into this potentially deadly trap, try to seek help and treatment by contacting professionals that can help you or your loved one overcome addiction.
It’s recommended to learn about the dangers, signs, and symptoms of using opioids. This can help save someone’s life. In addition to that, play your part in removing the stigma attached to opioid addiction. It is important to understand that anyone can get addicted to drugs, especially when it comes to prescribed opioids.
It is nothing but a biological reaction that our bodies have to these drugs. Therefore, instead of stigmatizing addiction, you can help eliminate the drug crisis by spreading awareness about the dangers of using opioids and treatment options available.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, seek help immediately. With multiple addiction treatment programs available for substance abuse or addiction, there’s no need to continue suffering anymore. Reach out to a national or international drug rehab like Costa Rica Treatment Center immediately to learn more about your options. Look for a treatment program that suits your requirements and put an end to addiction once and for all. For more information about our program click here.