Pandemic Death Count: Alcohol and Drug use Increased to New Highs

Deputy Grand Chief Amos Wesley also highlighted the need for healing services and support for service providers, emphasizing rehabilitation over incarceration.

Despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous deaths, there are other causes which have been contributing to elevated mortality levels across Canada, particularly among younger people.

Drug and alcohol use increased and deaths from drug overdoses and alcohol-induced deaths jumped too.

Provisional data on a national scale also indicates that the number of deaths due to accidental poisoning, ingesting hazardous substances or overdosing on prescription, over-the-counter or illicit substances has increased since the onset of the pandemic.

Statistics Canada reports, “Younger age groups made up a disproportionate number of deaths from overdoses. Among individuals aged younger than 45 years, there were 2,640 accidental poisoning deaths in 2020 and 3,600 in 2021, while among those aged 45 to 64 years, there were 1,735 deaths in 2020 and 2,355 in 2021. By comparison, among individuals aged 65 years and older, accidental poisoning attributed to 230 deaths in 2020 and 350 in 2021”.

27% Increase in Alcohol Induced Deaths

Young Canadians are dying off at a rate greater than ever!

Alcohol-induced mortality also increased significantly throughout the pandemic. There were 3,790 alcohol-induced deaths in Canada in 2020 and 3,875 in 2021, compared with 3,200 in 2019. The 18% increase from 2019 to 2020 was the largest year-over-year change in alcohol-induced deaths seen in at least the last 20 years. The effects of this increase were felt most among those aged younger than 65 years. The number of alcohol-induced deaths from 2019 to 2020 in this age group increased by 27% (from 1,955 to 2,490), compared with a 4% increase (from 1,245 to 1,300) among those aged 65 years and older. In 2021, the number of alcohol-induced deaths among those aged younger than 65 years (2,525) and among those aged 65 years and older (1,345) were similar to those observed in 2020.”

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