Ottawa – Considering the out of control opioid epidemic, as well as unchecked drug and alcohol abuse rates, it should be no surprise that a new study shows, things are getting worse.

A report published last week by the Canadian Institute for Health Information Research (CIHI), recorded 156,108 hospital stays between April 2017 and March 2018 due to harm caused by substance abuse, including alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and opioids.

More than 400 Canadians are hospitalized every day for alcohol and drug harm. The three Territories lead the way followed by, and not surprising, BC.

In 2017–2018, there were more than 155,000 hospital stays for harm caused by substance use — that’s more hospital stays than for heart attacks and strokes combined.

Half of patients hospitalized for harm caused by substance use spend 5 days or longer in hospital. In total, all harm adds up to 2 million days in hospital in Canada each year. Types of harm from substance use can include drug or alcohol overdoses, severe withdrawal symptoms, injuries caused by intoxication, chronic conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver, or drug-induced psychosis requiring treatment in a mental health bed.

On average, 10 patients die in hospital every day because of substance use — most (77%) from health complications related to alcoholism. We know that many also die from substance use outside of hospital. For example, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, opioid overdoses alone claimed the lives of more than 10 Canadians a day last year — but the vast majority died at home or in the community.

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