Despite record opioid overdose deaths, a new report Tuesday says alcohol and tobacco are by far the most costly and deadly substances in Canada.
University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) partnered with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSUA) in Ottawa to examine substance use data and found the economic cost in Canada to be $38.4 billion in 2014 or $1,100 per Canadian.
More than two-thirds of substance use costs are associated with alcohol and tobacco.
Examining harms based on health, justice, lost productivity and other costs, the report says alcohol abuse reached near $15 billion in 2014 and about $12 billion for tobacco, while costs for opioid use is estimated to be $3.5 billion.
Marijuana costs are pegged at $2.8 billion.
CISUR Director Tim Stockwell says most people would be surprised to know alcohol and tobacco are killing 10 times more people than the other illicit drugs combined.
The report says alcohol use accounted for 15,000 deaths in Canada in 2014.
CCSUA senior research and policy analyst Matthew Young says the report comes at a time when Canada is dealing with an opioid overdose crisis and is set 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,” Young said.
With files from the Canadian Press.