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How much does addiction actually cost Canadians each year?

Teen Challenge also highlights how robust support programs ultimately strengthen our communities and country

Around March 2020, a pandemic hit the world, leading to lockdowns across multiple countries and industries. The healthcare industry became swamped with thousands of cases of Coronavirus. As a result, other essential services such as mental health and addiction support were either halted or drastically reduced.

A report from the Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that 1 in 5 Canadians will meet the criteria for addiction in their lifetime -- a statistic that means that addiction is likely to affect you, your family, or your friends in some way. For some, the cost can be direct and catastrophic as loved ones are lost to a substance abuse overdose. But all Canadians are impacted by the enormous expense that addictions and substance abuse levies on our country. 

Addiction continues to be a growing issue in Canada, and for many, without the support they need, it doesn’t stop until it ends their life.

During the first year of the pandemic, there was a 95% increase in apparent opioid toxicity deaths in Canada and a 17% increase in death rates associated with alcohol consumption. According to the Government of Canada, between April 2020 and March 2021, there were 7,224 reported deaths to opioids (3,711 deaths were reported in the same time period the year before). Since then, the number of deaths has remained high. Of these deaths, about 74% are male.

The Canadian Substance Use Costs and Harms project, co-led by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, reported the cost of substance use to Canadians between the years 2015-2017. The project reported that the estimated overall cost of substance use in Canada was about $46 billion, or $1,258 for every Canadian. This cost is due to healthcare, the criminal justice system, and other causes. 

How Can We Help Lower the Cost of Addiction in Canada?

Lost productivity accounts for over 40% ($4.7 billion) of the cost of addiction in Canada, which means simply showing support to our fellow citizens who suffer from substance abuse can be a huge step in changing the stigma surrounding it. By freeing individuals from the addictions that consume their lives, they can become stronger members of their community and add billions of dollars to the economy. 

“In the midst of this devastation, Teen Challenge Canada continues to offer a life-changing treatment program for those seeking freedom from addiction, says their 2021 Impact Report published by Teen Challenge, “In 2021, despite the numerous changes and adjustments related to COVID-19, our centres persevered, lives were changed, families were restored, and communities were strengthened.

The Eastern Ontario Men’s Centre, located in Renfrew, Ontario, is now serving the Ottawa area and is the newest of nine Teen Challenge Canada locations, seeking to help local men with addictions and substance abuse issues to obtain the support they need. Through the 12-month in-residence alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation program, individuals begin their journey to freedom with the help of Teen Challenge Canada. 

Do you have a used car you no longer need? The Teen Challenge Vehicle Donation Program accepts all type of vehicles as a method of raising funds to help support the life-changing programs offered by Teen Challenge Canada. Professionally appraised tax receipts issued, with a $600 minimum. Consider donating your vehicle to help change a life today.

Visit the Teen Challenge Canada website to learn more about the initiatives of Teen Challenge Canada, and how you can help support local men and women caught in addiction.

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