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Opioid crisis cutting close to home for millions of Canadians

Last Updated Jan 11, 2018 at 9:02 am PST

(iStock Photo)

Poll finds nearly one in five Canadians say they themselves have been prescribed opioids in the last five years

Fewer than a quarter of Canadians say the federal government has 'responded appropriately' to the opioid crisis

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The opioid crisis cuts close to home for a huge number of Canadians, with a new poll finding millions have friends or family who have faced addiction.

“The exposure to opioids is something that is touching Canadians in their daily lives,” says Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute, which finds one-in-eight adults (12%) — the equivalent of 3.5 million Canadians — have seen opioid dependency creep into their close circles.

As the issue has dominated public health, safety and policy for more than two years, the poll finds 19 per cent of Canadians say they themselves have been prescribed opioids in the last five years, with dependency on the painkillers rising to the level of “crisis” in the eyes of more than one-in-four (26%) Canadians.

“What we also learn is that this is something that really cuts across age, education level, income level and all of these things that may still be leading people to think that this is an issue that other people deal with on the other side of town. In fact, it is something that is coming home for a lot of Canadians,” Kurl tells NEWS 1130.


(Source: Angus Reid)

Fewer than one-in-four (23%) say the federal government has “responded appropriately” to the issue, and 38 per cent believe it has put “too few” resources into its response with provincial governments also getting a more negative than positive assessment for their responses to the epidemic.

In BC – the province with the largest number of opioid-related deaths in Canada in 2016 – the poll finds we are paying the closest attention to the issue and more likely to see it as a crisis for all levels of government.

As we see addiction, overdoses and deaths take their toll, two-thirds (67%) of Canadians say they are in favour of supervised-injection sites, and more than eight-in-ten (85%) support compulsory treatment programs for those who OD.

The poll also finds more than three-quarters of Canadians (77%) think there is a long road ahead in tackling the opioid crisis.

“There is a high number of people who believe that before this issue begins to resolve itself and stop harming and killing people, it will get worse,” says Kurl.