Cost of substance use in Canada tops $38 billion, with booze and tobacco on top
VICTORIA — The economic cost of substance use in Canada in 2014 was $38.4 billion, or about $1,100 for every Canadian, says a report released Tuesday.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction partnered with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research to examine the data and estimate the harms of substance use based on health, justice, lost productivity and other costs.
The study concludes that despite record opioid overdose deaths across Canada, more than two-thirds of substance use costs are associated with alcohol and tobacco.
It finds the four substances associated with the largest costs are alcohol at $14.6 billion, tobacco at $12 billion, opioids at $3.5 billion and marijuana at $2.8 billion.
The report says the ability to track costs and harms caused by each substance will be a valuable asset to federal, provincial and territorial efforts to reduce the damage caused by these substances.
Tim Stockwell, with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria, says many people would consider opioids to be the cause of the most economic and personal harm. “I think most people would be surprised to know that alcohol and tobacco are killing ten times more people than the other illicit drugs combined.”
Matthew Young, a senior research and policy analyst at the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction in Ottawa, says the report comes at a time when Canada is in the midst of a deadly opioid overdose crisis and is about to legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana in October.
“Even though those are really important, we shouldn’t lose sight of some of the substances we take for granted that are intertwined with our regular lives because they do still exact a toll,” he says.