Canadians rank high on prescription drug abuse

It might surprise you to think that many Canadians, especially seniors, have become drug addicts through improper…

Members of Parliament, John Weston and Dave Wilks, two of my B.C. colleagues, have formed a Combatting Substance Abuse Caucus in Ottawa.

This caucus is reviewing issues such as illegal drug abuse, as well as the abuse of prescription drugs and the effect of drugs to mental health and addiction treatment.

It might surprise you to think that many Canadians, especially seniors, have become drug addicts through improper or prolonged use of pharmaceutical drugs.

Canada is the second largest per capita consumer of opioids (sedative, tranquilizer, depressant, painkiller etc.) in the world, up by 23 per cent from 2000 to 2010, which is a larger increase than the U.S.

To give you an example of the statistics from just one province, in Nova Scotia the number of people in withdrawal management for opioid dependence increased by 112 per cent since 2006.

On May 9, 2013 the minister of health, along with MP Weston, launched a ‘National Prescription Drug Drop-off Day’ with participating police services all across Canada. Collectively, across the country, 4,000 pounds of medications were surrendered.

The impact of this initiative is obvious.  By preventing drug abuse, reducing access and availability, chances of accidental deaths in the household, especially for children, is lowered.  It also ensures that seniors will not mix drugs that are not compatible, and keeps the medications out of our water system and landfill sites.

Folks, this is a big problem.  I encourage you to go to your medicine cabinet and separate the drugs you no longer need, review your dependency to any subscription drugs with your doctor, ensure your pharmaceuticals are safely stored, and when in doubt, go to your local pharmacy professional for advice on the usage and purpose of your prescription drugs.

This will save lives as it is estimated that up to 10,000 Canadians die each year from improper use of pharmaceutical drugs and one in nine ER visits are, due to a drug-related cause of which over two-thirds were deemed preventable.

Some pharmaceutical drugs have been life changing for people that have health challenges, and we can be thankful for that fact. We must, however, endeavor through lifestyle changes and healthier diets to limit the use of feel-good drugs that only mask health issues that we face in life.

Consult your physician on how you can better help yourself when dealing with your health challenges.

Submitted by Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes