British Columbia

B.C. leading the way in opioid awareness: Stats Can

In B.C., 86 per cent of respondents report being either "very" or "somewhat" aware of the opioid issue, compared to the national average of 77 per cent.

New survey attempts to gauge Canadians level of understanding as the opioid overdose crisis grows

A Stats Can survey says British Columbians lead the nation in opioid awareness. (Shutterstock)

British Columbians have the highest awareness in the country of opioids and the negative issues surrounding the pain-killing drugs, according to a new survey by Statistics Canada.

In B.C., 86 per cent of respondents report being either "very" or "somewhat" aware of the opioid issue, compared to the national average of 77 per cent. Quebec registered the lowest level of awareness at 67 per cent.

British Columbians were also the most likely to report being "very aware that drugs obtained illegally have the potential to contain fentanyl," according to the survey.

The fentanyl crisis has hit B.C. the hardest with 1,208 lives lost to illicit drug overdose between January and October of 2017, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. Fentanyl was detected in 83 per cent of those deaths.

Naloxone knowledge

Most Canadians over age 18 said they would call 911 if witnessing a suspected overdose. Seven per cent said they would know how to obtain and administer naloxone, the opioid reversing drug.

Nationally, 29 per cent of respondents say they used some form of opioid in the past five years, with one quarter of that group reporting left-over prescribed opioids stored at home.

Opioids are legitimately prescribed to relieve pain but are highly addictive and have increasingly been detected in the illegal drug supply in Canada. 

Fentanyl, OxyContin, morphine and codeine are all examples of common opioids.

According to the survey, the rate of hospitalization due to opioid poisoning has increased by more than 50 per cent in Canada over the last decade.

Stats Canada says the survey "is intended to provide a richer understanding of Canadians' knowledge of the opioid issue, the risks associated and their willingness and ability to intervene in the event of an apparent opioid overdose."