November 14, 2018 12:27 pm
Updated: November 14, 2018 7:03 pm

Substance abuse a costly issue in Alberta: study

WATCH: According to new numbers, substance use is costing Alberta more than $5.5 billion a year and as Heather Yourex-West explains, it’s how much we’re drinking that’s costing the most.

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New research indicates substance abuse cost Alberta $5.4 billion in 2014.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use Addiction (CCSA) and the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) found Alberta was one of six provinces where the cost of substance use surpassed $1 billion in 2014.

READ MORE: Alcohol ‘directly causes’ seven forms of cancer, scientist suggests

Alberta had the second-highest cost, according to the research, only behind Ontario at $14 billion.

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“The release of these provincial and territorial estimates clearly describe the costs and harms associated with substance use in each province and territory,” CCSA senior research and policy analyst Dr. Matthew Young said.

“The data clearly point to where governments and other organizations should target interventions and policies designed to reduce harms related to substance use.”

READ MORE: More than one alcoholic drink a day could take years off your life, study says

The study researched the costs associated with health care, lost productivity, criminal justice and other direct costs. It covered substances including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and opioids.

Researchers said the greatest costs in all provinces and territories came from lost productivity due to premature death and disability connected to substance use. The study suggested alcohol and tobacco were responsible for the largest proportion of costs and harms.

READ MORE: Study suggests substance use costs Canadian economy $38B, booze and tobacco on top

A CCSA study released in July indicated substance use cost $38 billion across Canada in 2014 . The researchers also estimated that substance use contributed to 67,515 deaths in Canada in 2014.

The CCSA said the release of Wednesday’s study was the first of a two-phase project. The second phase will provide Canadians with an online tool that will provide information about the costs and harms of substance use in Canada and include customized figures and tables. The centre said the tentative release date of the tool is early 2019.

The CCSA was established in 1988 and conducts research on substance use and addiction. The centre said its views do not necessarily represent the views of the federal government.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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