Yes, there's an opioid crisis. But alcohol kills more people
It's hard to read the word opioid these days and not see the word crisis nearby.
The number of deaths related to the painkillers in provinces like Alberta, B.C. and Ontario have prompted both provincial and national attention.
While Launette Rieb welcomes the step, she says when it comes to drugs in Canada, alcohol is the big killer.
Rieb, a family physician who works in addiction and community medicine, says statistics from B.C. alone last year show alcohol related deaths were more than double the number of deaths related to all opiates and other drugs combined.
Overall, alcohol is still a bigger problem in Canada both in terms of hospitalizations, health risks and deaths than opiates and other drugs combined- Launette Rieb
As for why opioid related deaths prompt immediate government action and alcohol related deaths do not, Rieb says one of the biggest problems is that alcohol has become normalized.
"It's part and parcel of the social fabric in Canadian life," says Rieb, adding that when that happens it's harder for people to see the harms as easily.
Rieb says a contributing problem is the notion that moderate drinking can have a beneficial effect. She cites a recent study that concluded "low-volume alcohol consumption has no net mortality benefit compared with lifetime abstention or occasional drinking."
And journalists could do more to help get that message across.
Rieb advocates for media, who often showcase wine or beer products, to make a better effort to remind people of Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.
Click the play button above to listen to the full interview with guest host Kathryn Marlow.