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Date: November 24, 2004

UVic Contributes to National Addictions Survey

The UVic-based Centre for Addictions Research of BC says there may be good news coming out of a national survey on substance use. The data shows that although the use of illicit drugs may be on the rise, these substances are harming fewer people.

“This could be because some people are learning to use substances in less harmful ways,” explains CAR-BC’s communication and resource director, Dan Reist. “This is good information because it means that the harm reduction approach to drug education may be working. However, the data also shows that nearly eight per cent of British Columbians report problems related to their own alcohol use. Most of these are heavy drinkers.”

Reist’s comments come in reaction to today’s release of the highlights of the first major national survey in a decade on drug use in Canada. The Canadian Addictions Survey, www.ccsa.ca, provides a detailed picture of how Canadians aged 15 years and older use alcohol, cannabis and other drugs, and the impact that use has on their physical, mental and social well-being. The survey shows that use of alcohol, cannabis and other drugs has increased in Canada over the past decade—with alcohol and cannabis continuing to be the most commonly used drugs. Of particular concern is the increase in heavy drinking and cannabis use among persons aged 18 to 24. The B.C. Ministry of Health Services contributed $82,000 and CAR-BC contributed another $20,000 to the survey so that the sample of B.C. respondents would increase by 2,000, tripling the number of B.C. residents surveyed and providing an opportunity for more detailed analysis.

“Now that we have a clearer picture of substance use in Canada, researchers at CAR-BC can provide evidence-based advice to inform public policy and programs on issues of vital concern to our communities in B.C.,” says Dr. Martin Taylor, UVic’s vice-president research.

CAR-BC’s mission is to facilitate population health research on the understanding, prevention, and treatment of problematic substance use. Over the next year, CAR-BC and the Mental Health Evaluation and Community Consultation Unit at UBC will analyze and study the B.C. data in more detail. They’ll issue a series of reports that will guide policy development and service planning regarding addictions in B.C.

According to the recently released B.C. Ministry of Health Services document, Every Door is the Right Door, approximately 33,000 British Columbians have a dependence on illicit drugs.

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Media contacts:
Dan Reist (CAR-BC) at (604) 408-7753 or dreist@uvic.ca
Dr. Tim Stockwell (CAR-BC) at (250) 472-5305 or timstock@uvic.ca
Maria Lironi (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-6139 or lironim@uvic.ca


UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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