Substance Abuse Crisis

Streamed live on May 31, 2022


Canada’s British Columbia is the first jurisdiction to abolish criminal sanctions for the possession of some dangerous narcotics.

British Columbia is the first province to receive approval for an exception from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which eliminates criminal penalties for some hard drug possession. People who have a modest amount of certain illegal substances for personal use are eligible for a three-year exemption. In all of British Columbia, the exemption will be in place from January 31, 2023, until January 31, 2026. Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions of British Columbia, stated that substance use is a public health issue rather than a criminal one. “By decriminalizing drug users, we will eliminate the stigma that prevents people from obtaining services and support that could save their lives.

Canada drugs

The drugs that are most frequently mentioned while discussing substance addiction are alcohol, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, hallucinogens, methaqualone, and opioids. 

The impacts of drug addiction can have long-lasting physical and psychological consequences and alter brain structure. Occasionally, modifications to the brain are an indication that the brain is recovering from addiction. Other times, extra psychological assistance may be needed to heal the scars left by years of abuse. This is a sign of self-awareness in the rehabilitation process rather than weakness or failure.

By making a donation to Carita World Foundation, you’re addressing a variety of substance abuse recovery assistance served by Nonprofit Organizations fighting the addiction epidemic in Canada and supporting individuals and their families going through this painful and long-term process. Carita World Foundation aims to fund these organizations and programs pursuing their compassionate initiatives.

The Dangers Of Substance Abuse Crisis In Canada


What is being done to address the fatal nature of Canada’s illicit drug supply?

As a result of the epidemic, Canada’s overdose crisis has gotten worse, with the number of illegal drug overdose deaths reaching record highs across numerous provinces.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reports that since it began keeping track of the statistics in 2016, 2020 was the year with the highest number of overdose deaths. Over 9,800 Canadians overdosed on opioids between January 2020 and June 2021. People who conduct study and work with drug users contend that the nation’s expanding dangerous drug supply is to blame.

Why is Canada’s supply of illicit drugs becoming more lethal?

Data indicate that the epidemic contributed to the supplies becoming so hazardous. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction reports that once pandemic lockdowns were announced in March 2020, supply volatility substantially increased (CCSA). “Since COVID began, the entire drug supply has become much messier. Borders have been closed, drug supply channels have changed, and individuals are making do with what they have “said Doris Payer, a researcher and coordinator for the CCSA.

Since its release in 1996, the prescription painkiller OxyContin has been blamed by many for igniting the opioid crisis that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in North America. Drug companies actively promoted opioids, especially OxyContin, which lawsuits allege was deceptively marketed as being less expensive and prone to abuse than other opioids.

However, when the medicine was used more often, more people began abusing it. As the painkiller gained popularity as a street drug, dealers made enormous profits, and OxyContin eventually spread from urban areas to rural areas.

In order to deter abuse, OxyContin’s makers, Purdue Pharmaceuticals, redesigned the medicine to make it more difficult to crumble or melt. However, limiting the availability of pharmaceutical opioids did not alter the reality that thousands of individuals were dependent on them, leading many of them to turn to heroin and other opioids as well as the streets.

Drug dealers started mixing the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl with the illegal supply of heroin as the demand for illicit opioids rose in an effort to raise earnings.

Fentanyl was found to be contributing to an increase in opioid-related mortality in 2016, according to a Public Health Canada study. According to the study, fentanyl, which is growing more common on the black market for drugs, is increasingly combined with other illegal substances, raising the danger of an overdose.

Around ten years ago, Oxycontin contributed to an opioid crisis that spread across Canada due to an increase in opioid prescriptions.

The relatively easy-to-make opioid, which is much more potent than oxycontin and is blended into other street narcotics more frequently, has killed hundreds of people across Canada, but especially in B.C. and Alberta. More than 2,800 deaths connected to opioids were noted in 2016 by PHAC.

Fentanyl increasingly predominates the market, according to data from drug-checking agencies in Toronto and British Columbia that test the substances users take and notify them of what they contain.

According to Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service, 69% of opioids recovered by law enforcement agencies throughout Canada in 2020 contained fentanyl or fentanyl analogues (DAS).

According to PHAC, fentanyl is still found in the vast majority of illegal drug deaths in Canada, but the supply is becoming more deadly due to the unpredictable nature and strength of other drugs combined in with the fentanyl.
Benzodiazepines are the most recent medicine for which health officials are raising concerns.

In a little more than a year, the percentage of drug samples in British Columbia that contained benzodiazepines increased from 15% to 53%, according to a recent report by the B.C. Coroner Service.

According to Health Canada, benzodiazepine, a sedative that is frequently prescribed, is harmful when used with fentanyl since the sleepiness raises the possibility of an overdose.

As benzodiazepines start to show up in street drugs across Canada, proponents are reiterating their pleas for a regulated drug supply. However, fentanyl continues to be the top cause of drug-related mortality in the nation.

Nearly all of the fentanyl tested over the previous two years at Toronto supervised consumption facilities also includes synthetic cannabinoids, benzodiazepines, or psychotropic drugs, according to Fifield. The drug-checking program in Toronto reveals a comparable variety of drugs.

Similar to how cannabis plants impact the brain, synthetic cannabinoids are produced molecules. Chemicals known as psychoactive drugs alter a person’s mental state by interfering with how the brain and nervous system function.

How did we get here?

Martin Raithelhuber, a specialist in illegal synthetic drugs who works with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, Austria, claims that the roots of Canada’s erratic drug supply go far beyond the borders of the nation.

The growth that you’re observing in Canada has a worldwide scope, according to Raithelhuber.

Since 2008, the UNODC has received reports of more than 1000 novel psychoactive drugs.