Report on the Illicit Drug Situation in Canada - 2008
This section is based on the results of the Health Canada-sponsored Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS), which provides national and provincial estimates of alcohol and illicit drug use among Canadians aged 15 years and older.1 Illicit drugs are produced and sold in Canada for one reason: to meet the demand for such substances. This section will provide information on the prevalence of drug use in Canada, and is included in this report in order to provide context to the overall picture presented by the Report on the Illicit Drug Situation in Canada — 2008. Health Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have significantly different mandates and activities in relation to illicit drugs in Canada. As such, the commodities, definitions, and trends presented in this section may not correspond directly with those presented in the main sections of this report.
The CADUMS survey is conducted through randomly-dialed telephone interviews with Canadians from all ten provinces. Between April and December, 2008, 16,672 Canadians participated in the survey. The results obtained from this sample of respondents are used to provide an estimate of illicit drug use among almost 26 million Canadians.2 For the purposes of establishing general trends, the results of 2008 CADUMS survey were contrasted with the Canadian Addiction Survey (CAS), which was a similar survey launched in 2004.
Cannabis is the most commonly used substance in Canada. Consequently, the CADUMS survey separates illicit drug use prevalence into two categories: illicit drug use3 and illicit drug use excluding cannabis.
According to the CADUMS, the prevalence of past-year illicit drug use has decreased from 14.5 percent in 2004 to 12.1 percent in 2008. This decrease, however, can be primarily attributed to a significant drop in cannabis use, as all other drug types remained relatively stable.
|Drug Type||CADUMS 2008||CAS 2004|
|Any drug (including cannabis)||12.1*||14.5|
|Any drug (excluding cannabis)||3.9||3.0|
The 2008 CADUMS survey showed marked differences between drug use by youths and adults. Past year use of cannabis was significantly higher among youth (32.7 percent) as compared with adults (7.3 percent). Youth were also the most prevalent users of non-cannabis illicit drugs, with 15.4 percent of youth reporting use in the past year, compared with 1.7 percent of adults aged 25 years and older.
Cannabis: In comparison to the 2004 survey, the 2008 report indicated there was a 25 percent decrease in cannabis users. Provincially, the use of cannabis was highest in 2008 in Nova Scotia (13.4 %) and lowest in Newfoundland and Labrador (9.8 %).
Cocaine: The national prevalence of cocaine and crack cocaine use remained stable from the 2004 statistic. Past-year cocaine use was most prevalent in Saskatchewan (2.4 %) and least prevalent in Ontario (1.2 %).
Amphetamine (Speed5): Like cocaine, the national past-year use of amphetamine remained stable from the 2004 CAS statistic, only increasing to 1.1 percent in 2008 from 0.8 percent in 2004. The only notable change in amphetamine (speed) use was in Quebec, where the prevalence of use was considerably higher (3.7 %).
Hallucinogens: The national prevalence of past-year hallucinogen use has significantly increased6 from 0.7 percent in 2004 to 2.1 percent in 2008. Past-year use of hallucinogens was highest in Saskatchewan (2.6 %), and lowest in Nova Scotia (1.6 %). Hallucinogens are the second most commonly used illicit drug after cannabis.
MDMA (Ecstasy): Nationally, MDMA (Ecstasy) use appeared to be consistent across all provinces in 2008 (between 1-2%).
Methamphetamine: The prevalence of past-year methamphetamine use was 0.2 percent in 2008.7
1 For the purposes of the CADUMS survey only, youth is defined as 15-24 years old, whereas adult is defined as 25 years or older.
2 At the time of publication, the full text of the CADUMS report had not been released to the public. As such, this section is based on the information provided in the Summary Results (Appendix A of the CADUMS report).
3 According to the CADUMS survey, the categories of drug included in “illicit drug use” are: cannabis, cocaine/crack cocaine, amphetamine/speed, MDMA (Ecstasy), hallucinogens and heroin.
4 Table 1 represents the results of the 2008 CADUMS and 2004 CAS on national prevalence of past-year illicit drug use among Canadians aged 15 years and older, across all ten provinces.
5 The term speed is often used as a street name to refer to amphetamine type stimulants, including amphetamine and methamphetamine.
6 It is important to note that the 2008 CADUMS classified four drugs under the hallucinogen category, namely PCP, LSD, salvia, and “magic mushrooms”, whereas the 2004 CAS only provided data on PCP and LSD.
7 The 2004 CAS did not report on the prevalence of methamphetamine use.
8 The 2008 CADUMS did not survey Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut.