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25% of Canadians have been prescribed opioids

September 26, 2017

In the seventh wave of the Campaign Research Poll, a national online public opinion survey conducted among a sample of 1770 Canadian voters, one quarter have been prescribed opioids in the past (25%), and this is especially common among boomers (55 to 64 - 33%), females (28%) rather than males (21%), in Alberta especially (31%), in Ontario outside the GTA (34%), among Greens (37%) and among those in lower income groups (less than $20K - 28%, $20K to $40K - 29%). Interestingly, incidence is very high among those who have consumed cannabis in the past year (42%).

 

 

1 IN 25 IN TOTAL HAVE SUFFERED DEPENDENCY PROBLEMS WITH OPIOIDS

Among the one quarter of the population who have been prescribed opioids, about one seventh experienced dependency problems (14%). Incidence of dependency is highest among the youngest (43%), males (16%) more so than females (12%), in Quebec (19%) and in the GTA outside Toronto (19%), among Green Party voters (25%) and among the least wealthy (20%). Cannabis users are especially likely to have suffered opioid dependency problems (27%). In February, the Campaign Research Poll found that 1 in 33 claimed to have suffered an opioid dependency (February 8 - 3%).

 

PLURALITY PREFERS HARM REDUCTION OVER ENFORCEMENT

One third of voters say the best solution to the opioid crisis is a harm reduction approach (33%), while one quarter prefers a stronger enforcement approach (25%), a quarter don’t share an opinion (24%), indicating there is much learning to be done on this subject for members of the public.  Interestingly, 3% of people prefer to limit access to the drugs. The harm reduction approach is preferred among the youngest, in Quebec and among Liberals and the NDP. Those who have used cannabis recently especially favour the harm reduction approach. The enforcement approach finds favour especially among the oldest (28%), males (28%), in Alberta (30%) and among federal Conservatives (40%). Those who have not used cannabis are no more likely than the general population to prefer the harm reduction approach to the opioid crisis.

 

FEW FAVOUR LEGALIZING ALL DRUGS

Just one fifth approve the idea of legalizing all drugs to aid in a harm reduction approach (20%), and two thirds disapprove (64%). One sixth have no opinion (16%). Legalizing all drugs is especially favoured by the young (18 to 24 - 30%, 25 to 34 - 31%), males (23%) rather than females (17%), in Atlantic Canada (26%) and Alberta (24%), among Greens (41%) and among the least wealthy (30%). Those who use cannabis are especially likely to approve of the idea (37%).

 

ONE HALF WANT GOVERNMENT TO DECLARE NATIONAL OPIOID EMERGENCY

One half of all Canadian voters want the federal government to declare a national emergency in the opioid crisis (50%), while half this proportion don’t agree this is necessary (25%). One quarter don’t know (24%). Declaring a national emergency is important especially to the oldest (57%), females (52%) rather than males (49%), in Atlantic Canada (63%) and in Ontario outside the GTA (60%), among New Democrats (57%) and Liberals (54%) and among those in mid income brackets ($40K to $60K - 56%). Cannabis users are especially likely to think an emergency needs to be declared (59%).

 

“It appears the public is sensitive to the scope and magnitude of the opioid dependency problem, especially in rural Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and they want the government to declare a national emergency to deal with it”  said Eli Yufest, CEO of Campaign Research. Eli may be reached at eyufest@campaignresearch.ca or at (647) 931 4025, ext. 109

 

METHODOLOGY

This online poll was conducted between September 8 and 11, 2017 among a panel of 1770 Canadian voters. A probability sample of this size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3%, 19 out of 20 times.

 

 

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