Addiction and mental health issues are more common than people realize. But because of the stigma attached to them, neither are talked about very often.
This article examines some interesting data, primarily from Canada, that illustrates the prevalence of addiction and mental health issues, and illustrates why seeking help is so critical.
Tobacco is the most common substance addiction
A case could be made for coffee or sugar, but defining “addiction” for something that’s such an accepted daily substance is a difficult practice. Consequently, it’s tobacco, which is often associated with addiction, that stands as the No. 1 most used addictive substance. In the United States alone, there are over 40 million people addicted to tobacco. Alcohol comes in a distant second place, with 18 million U.S. addicts.
Atlantic Canada has the highest rate of marijuana consumption in the country
According to a poll tracking the final three month of 2018, Nova Scotia had the highest use rate of cannabis per person in Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador was second, New Brunswick was third, and PEI was fourth. Quebec was the province with the lowest usage rate, though the three territories were not included as part of the poll.
Alcohol is responsible for 1-2% of deaths in Canada
In 2016, more than 75,000 Canadians were hospitalized for incidents related to alcohol. This includes injuries caused directly by consumption, as well as injuries caused as a result of intoxication. That same year, a study found that between 1-2% of deaths in Canada were caused directly (e.g. alcohol poisoning) or indirectly (e.g. death in a car accident involving an impaired driver) by alcohol.
Nearly 1 in 10 hospitalizations relate to substance abuse
Approximately 8% of hospitalizations in Canada are the direct result of drug usage. This does not include indirect effects, like mental illness caused by substance abuse. It also fails to account for people who, rather than staying in a hospital, attend rehab programs in Canada for substance addictions.
Half of Canadians will experience mental illness by age 40
The term mental illness has become far more prevalent within the past decade. Its ubiquity has helped dispel some of the associated taboo, but it remains an operative definition for a wide variety of conditions that may be over- or under-diagnosed. According to CAMH, half of all Canadians will experience a mental illness by the time they turn 40. This encompasses numerous conditions that may be chronic or temporary.
People with mental illness are more likely to have an addiction
In the same CAMH article referenced above, its explained that “People with a mental illness are twice as likely to have a substance use problem compared to the general population.” This statistic really drives home how important mental wellness is, not only for its own sake, but for its relationship with addiction. When a person suffers from a mental illness, like panic attacks, as well as an addiction, the combination is known as a concurrent disorder.
How common are gambling problems?
It’s estimated that 5% of Canadians have problematic gambling habits. This means betting more than they can afford to bet, or being unable to stop gambling when they wish to. Unfortunately, behavioural addicts are less likely to seek help than substance addicts because their addictions are usually easier to hide. This means the statistics related to gambling, or addictions like porn, internet and videogames, are likely underreported.
Drug abuse is getting better in Canada
Though drug abuse will never be eradicated, Canada has seen the number of people with addictions to illicit substances drop over the last decade. For the most part, these decreases are minor, but speak to a positive movement across the board. For example, fewer Canadians are abusing opioids, which is a growing issue south of the border.
Of course, there are two elements to reducing drug abuse. One is prevention, which can be achieved, in part, through better education and public awareness. The second is recovery, which involves overcoming an addiction, and avoiding a relapse.
In either case it is important for Canadians to understand their options, and know that support is available.