One in eight Canadians has a friend or family member who has become dependent on opioids in the last five years, according to a new poll from the Angus Reid Institute.
The survey of more than 5,000 Canadians also found that one in five people had personally been prescribed the powerful narcotics.
Those key findings go to show that the opioid drug crisis now sweeping the country isn’t limited to the stereotypical “addicts” Canadians see on the nightly news, said Angus Reid director Shachi Kurl.
“This is not a problem that’s just limited to the marginalized or the poor. We’ve known anecdotally that the opioid crisis in B.C. and in Canada is not something that is just happening on one side of town.”
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Kurl added that the survey also found Canadians had strong opinions about how to handle the problem.
“That is surprising because there are a lot of folks in the civil liberties community and the libertarian community who would be among one of the first to say that you can’t force people to get treatment.”
When it comes to the federal government’s response to the problem, the survey found most Canadians aren’t happy with how Ottawa is handling the issue.
Fewer than one in four Canadians said the federal government had “responded appropriately” to the overdose crisis, while nearly four in 10 said leaders had put “too few” resources into their response.
The poll also found strong support for supervised injection sites, with 67 per cent saying they support the facilities.
The poll also found that B.C. residents, who live in the province that saw 2016’s highest death toll from opioid overdoses, were paying the closest attention to the issue.
More than 1,200 people died of suspected drug overdoses in B.C. in 2017, with final numbers for the year expected in the next several weeks.
Methodology: The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Nov. 14 to 20, 2017, among a representative randomized sample of 1,510 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI. Detailed tables are found at the end of this release.