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Date: November 03, 2008

BC Trends In Alcohol And Drug Use

New report reveals harms caused by substance use

The use of alcohol and illicit drugs is sending more and more people to hospital, according to a new report by the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC).

The report, Regional Variations and Trends in Substance Use and Related Harms in BC, also shows that alcohol causes more than twice as many deaths as all major illicit drugs combined, while tobacco causes the most deaths—25 times that caused by illicit drugs. Vancouver Coastal Health has the highest rate of hospital stays caused by illicit drugs and the lowest for alcohol. The situation is reversed, however, for Northern Health.

“Understanding regional variations and trends in drug use and related harms is essential,” says report co-author and CARBC Director Dr. Tim Stockwell. “The information can be used not only to understand alcohol and drug problems in BC, but also to help policy makers plan for treatment and evaluate how current strategies are working.”

The number of BC residents who went to hospital because of their illicit drug use was estimated to have risen 37 per cent from 2002 to 2007. Alcohol use in BC has risen eight per cent during this time and is at a higher level than previously estimated by Statistics Canada. During the same period, hospitalizations caused by alcohol increased by three per cent while those caused by tobacco actually declined by eight per cent. As well, surveys of drug users and police data on drug seizures indicate an increasing use of cocaine and crack cocaine while the use of methamphetamine (crystal meth) has declined from a peak in 2004.

The information for this report is taken from the BC Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) monitoring project, which uses a range of complementary data sources on the use of alcohol and other drugs and related harms in BC. The AOD monitoring system is a broad collaboration across several universities and government agencies and is a model now being adopted in other provinces. This research is funded by provincial government agencies and ministries as well as Health Canada. For a copy of CARBC’s report and background information visit “What’s New?” on the CARBC website (www.carbc.ca).

For more information about the authors of this report visit:

Media contacts:
Dr. Tim Stockwell 250-472-5445 or (cell) 250-4157376 or timstock@uvic.ca
Ms Lorissa Martens 250-472-5445 or lmartens@uvic.ca
Dr. Jane Buxton 604-660-4922 or (cell) 604-812-6750 or ritinder.harry@bccdc.ca
Dr. Cameron Duff 604-714-3466 or 604 817 4951 or cameron.duff@vch.ca
Dr. David Marsh 604-730-7622
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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