Addiction Statistics in Canada

Including health care, criminal justice, and lost productivity, substance use cost Canada over $38.4 billion in 2014. Substance use is not only costly, it’s dangerous. Alcohol, nicotine, and other drug addictions cause health problems, social issues, and can be deadly.

Canadian Substance Abuse Statistics

An estimated 21% of Canadians, about 6 million people, will meet the criteria for addiction in their lifetime.

Key Statistics on Substance Use and Drug Addiction in Canada

  • More than ⅔ of substance use costs are alcohol or tobacco-related.
  • Alcohol abuse cost Canada $14.6 billion in 2014
  • Tobacco use cost Canada $12 billion in 2014
  • Opioid use (oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl) cost Canada $3.5 billion in 2014
  • Cannabis use cost Canada $2.8 billion in 2014

Addiction in Canada by Substance

The most commonly abused drugs in Canada are alcohol, nicotine/tobacco, and cannabis. Illegal drugs and the abuse of prescription drugs are also serious issues for Canadians.

The following sections are some major statistics for each substance.

Alcohol

  • Alcohol is the most common drug used by Canadians
  • 249 per 100,000 hospitalizations were entirely caused by alcohol (comparable to the rate for heart attacks which was 243 in 100,000)
  • Alcohol-caused hospitalizations are 13x higher than for opioids
  • Alcohol contributed to 22% of all substance-use-related deaths in Canada in 2014 (That’s 14,826 deaths).
  • 15% of Canadians who drink alcohol drink more than recommended by Canada’s Low-risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.
  • Alcohol-related health, law enforcement, and productivity problems cost Ontario at least $5 billion each year.

Nicotine

  • Smoking is responsible for nearly 17% of deaths in Canada.
  • 18% of Canadians used a tobacco product in the past 30 days.
  • 3% of Canadians used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.

Cannabis

  • Over 40% of Canadians have used cannabis in their lifetime.
  • About 15% of Canadians have used cannabis in the past year.
  • About 32% of Canadians who have used cannabis in the past 3 months reported using it daily or almost daily.

Prescription Drug Misuse

  • 5% of Canadians who reported having used psychoactive prescriptions in the past year also reported problematic use.
  • 12% of Canadians used opioid pain relievers in the past year, 3% of those people also reported problematic use.
  • Of Canadians who reported past-year stimulant use, 19% reported problematic use.
  • Of Canadians who reported past-year use of sedatives, 1% reported using sedatives to get high.

Illicit Drug Use

  • An estimated 3% of Canadians have used one of 5 illegal drugs (including cocaine or crack, ecstasy, speed or methamphetamines, hallucinogens and heroin) in the past year.
  • Past-year use of at least one of these 5 illegal drugs was 4% among youth ages 15-19, 10% among young adults ages 20-24, and 3% among adults ages 25 and older.

Deaths Caused by Drug and Alcohol Addiction in Canada

Drug abuse, addiction, and misuse can cause many emotional, social, and physical issues for users, however, the worst risk is death. Overdoses, car accidents, and diseases caused by drug use can all be deadly.

  • In 2016 there were 865 opioid-related deaths in Ontario alone, equal to an opioid-related death every 10 hours.
  • 47,000 Canadian deaths are linked to substance abuse each year.
  • Pedestrians under the influence of alcohol account for 12.3% of alcohol-related road deaths in Canada.
  • In 2020, 4,395 people died of opioid-related causes in Canada (equal to 12 opioid-related deaths per day).
  • 1 in 9 deaths of Ontarians ages 25-34 is opioid-related.
  • Female addicts are 54% more likely to die prematurely because of drug use than male addicts.
  • Tobacco is the leading cause of premature death in Canada.

Addiction in Young People in Canada

Drug use is especially common and especially detrimental for young people. Canadian youth and young adults account for a high percentage of drug users. Below are some substance use statistics for young people in Canada.

  • Young people ages 15-24 are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance use disorders than any other age group.
  • 60% of illicit drug users in Canada are between ages 15 and 24.
  • 23% of students in Ontario report that they have been offered, sold, or given a drug in school in the past year.
  • Top 4 substances used by Ontario students: alcohol (58%), marijuana (35%), non-prescribed use of pain relievers (17%), and tobacco (11.7%).
  • 23% of 14 year-olds and 70% of 17 year-olds in Saskatchewan reported binge drinking at least once in the past month in 2008 (older study).
  • About 1 in 20 Ontario students in grades 7 to 12 reported using cocaine in the past year in 2005 (older study).

Canadian Addiction Treatment Statistics and How to Get Help

Addiction treatment is accessible and affordable in Canada. Many people struggle with a substance use disorder but treatment can help.

Key Canadian Addiction Treatment Facts and Statistics:

  • 1 in 205 Canadians were in treatment for substance abuse 2016-2017.
  • 62% of people receiving treatment were male.
  • Alcohol is the most common problem reported by people receiving substance use treatment.

Canadian Addiction Resources

​​ ​​​Alberta​​ ​​(Addiction Helpline, Alberta Health Services)
​​ 1-866-332-2322

British Columbia​ (Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service)
1-800-663-1441
604-660-9382

Manitoba (Addictions Foundation of Manitoba)
Adult services: 1-855-662-6605
Youth services: 1-877-710-3999
204-944-6200

​​New Brunswick (Addiction Centres, Department of Health)
506-674-4300

Newfoundland and Labrador (Addictions Services, Department of Health and Community Services)
1-888-737-4668
709-729-3658

Northwest Territories (Department of Health and Social Services)
1-800-661-0844
867-873-7037

Nova Scotia (Mental Health and Addictions Services, Nova Scotia Health Authority)
1-888-429-8167

Nunavut (Kamatsiaqtut Help Line)
1-800-265-3333
867-979-3333

Ontario (ConnexOntario)
1-866-531-2600

Prince Edward Island (Addiction Services, Health PEI)
1-833-553-6983
902-368-4120

Quebec (Drugs: help and referral)
1-800-265-2626
514-527-2626

Saskatchewan (HealthLine, Ministry of Health)
811 or 1-877-800-0002
306-766-6600

Yukon (Mental Wellness and Substance Use Services, Health and Social Services)
1-866-456-3838 (for Yukon, Nunavut and NWT)
867-456-3838

Download the Canadian Treatment Guide

Written by:

Content Manager

Jessica Miller is a USF graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She has written professionally for over a decade, from HR scripts and employee training to business marketing and company branding. In addition to writing, Jessica spent time in the healthcare sector (HR) and as a high school teacher. She has personally experienced the pitfalls of addiction and is delighted to bring her knowledge and writing skills together to support our mission. Jessica lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband and two dogs.

6 references
  1. Mental Illness and Addiction: Facts and Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.camh.ca/en/driving-change/the-crisis-is-real/mental-health-statistics
  2. Substance Use and Addiction. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ontario.cmha.ca/addiction-and-substance-use-and-addiction/
  3. Canadian Drug Crisis - Teen Challenge Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.teenchallenge.ca/get-help/canadian-drug-crisis
  4. Substance Use Treatment in CANADA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2021-01/CCSA-NTI-Canada-2016-2017-Data-Infographic-2021-en.pdf
  5. Canada’s Opioid Crisis: What You Should Know. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2021-06/CCSA-Canada-Opioid-Crisis-What-You-Should-Know-Poster-2021-en.pdf
  6. Canadian Tobacco Alcohol and Drugs (CTADS) Survey: 2017 summary - Canada.ca. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canadian-alcohol-drugs-survey/2017-summary.html

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