The use of cocaine is increasing in Canada, data shows, amid a growing crisis of drug overdose and substance abuse resulting in deaths and hospitalizations.
New data released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday showed that cocaine levels measured in wastewater of some Canadian cities have continued to increase from January 2020 to May 2023.
The use of cocaine among all the cities where wastewater surveillance was done was highest in Prince Albert, Sask., with 1,633 milligrams of cocaine per capita detected daily so far this year.
In Halifax, N.S., 1,440 mg of cocaine per 1,000 population per day was detected, according to the provisional data.
Montreal had lower levels at 1,277 mg of coke per 1,000 people in a day found in the wastewater.
Of the seven municipalities mentioned in the StatCan report, Metro Vancouver (1,062 mg) and Toronto (1,001 mg) had the lowest daily use of cocaine per capita.
The use of another stimulant drug, amphetamine, was also up in 2022, StatCan reported, but provisional data so far shows those levels may have stabilized this year.
Illegal drug store selling heroin, meth, cocaine in downtown Vancouver for safe supply
Roughly half a million people in Canada reported using cocaine over the past year, the United Nations Global Report on Cocaine published in March said.
About two per cent of the population in Canada aged 15 years and older use cocaine, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.
‘I didn’t think it would be in my house’: Lung cancer survivor warns of radon risks
Bindi Irwin gets emotional over endometriosis surgery: ‘It’s been a long journey’
More than seven per cent of Canadians aged 17 to 25 years reported using cocaine between 2019 to 2020, the CCSA said in a drug summary report from Oct. 2022.
According to Health Canada, cocaine and crack are controlled under Schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which means its sale, possession or production is illegal “unless authorized for medical, scientific or industrial purposes.”
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that can be snorted and injected, while crack is a version of cocaine that is typically smoked.
It can have several damaging mental and physical effects.
In the short term, it can cause panic, anxiety, muscle twitches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and tremors.
Longer-term effects include depression, extreme mood swings, sleeping problems, severe chest pain, difficulty breathing and heart problems.
Meanwhile, Canada is grappling with an opioid overdose crisis that has killed thousands of Canadians.
So far this year, nearly half of accidental apparent opioid toxicity deaths also involved a stimulant, the Public Health Agency of Canada said in a September report.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.