Facts and Stats

The material below is provided by the BC Alcohol and Other Drug Monitoring Project. For details about the research project, please visit the project website. Click on any of the panels below to view charts, graphs and data.

In the most recent year available, alcohol consumption in Canada showed an increase after declining slightly since 2009/10. Alcohol consumption in BC, which has been higher than the Canadian average for several years, showed a slight decrease in 2012/13 which may reflect some degree of stabilization in the wider economy. Our own analyses show a leveling out of the earlier reduction in estimated per capita alcohol consumption.

Note: The Statistics Canada rates for alcohol consumption in BC were corrected from 8.9 to 8.1 for fiscal year 2011/12 in early May 2013 after CARBC alerted them of an apparent error in their estimates and the Statistics Canada rates for alcohol consumption in Canada were recently updated from 8.2 to 8.1 for fiscal year 2011/12.

1 Litre of Absolute Alcohol = 58 Standard Drinks 



Alcohol Consumption in BC by Health Authority
This map presents estimates of adult (15 years and older) per capita consumption of alcohol (reported in litres of absolute alcohol) reported by the 5 regional health authorities in British Columbia. Estimates are based on 2012 sales data including data regarding U-brew and U-Vin sales.
Data Table(s)

Alcohol Consumption in BC by Health Service Delivery Area
This map shows estimates of adult (15 years and older) per capita consumption of alcohol (reported in litres of absolute alcohol) analysed for the 16 Health Service Delivery Areas.
Data Table(s)

Alcohol Consumption in BC by Local Health Area
The following maps present estimates of adult (15 years and older) per capita consumption of alcohol (reported in litres of absolute alcohol) reported by the 89 local health areas in British Columbia. Estimates are based on 2012 sales data including data regarding U-brew and U-Vin sales.
Data Table(s)

Low Priced Alcohol Sold in BC
An analysis of the litres of low priced alcohol sold per capita (15 years and older) in British Columbia from 2003 to 2010. Low priced alcohol is defined as >15 ml of absolute alcohol per dollar or <1.15 dollar per drink containing 17.2 ml of absolute alcohol. Data is presented by health authority, health service delivery area, and local health area.
Data Table(s)

Comparison of Alcohol Consumption Estimates

In the most recent year available, alcohol consumption in Canada showed an increase after declining slightly since 2009/10. Alcohol consumption in BC, which has been higher than the Canadian average for several years, showed a slight decrease in 2012/13 which may reflect some degree of stabilization in the wider economy. Our own analyses show a leveling out of the earlier reduction in estimated per capita alcohol consumption.


Data Table(s)

The chart above shows the rate of violent offenses, property crime and non-cannabis drug offenses per 1,000 population organized by health authority. The data is from the 2008-2010 average provincial police data.

It is important to note that police data is often biased by current police enforcement priorities but nonetheless can be a useful indicator when the information is taken alongside other datasets such as hospitalization and death data and drug analysis data.

To understand regional variations in violent crime offenses, property crime and non-cannabis related offenses; the maps presented below are organized by health service delivery area.



Drug Offences by BC HSDA
Many crimes are committed by those who are under the influence of drugs, with a large number of offences involving property crimes.

Violent Crimes by BC HSDA
Violent offenses are commonly alcohol related and the rates of violent crime are much higher than those of property crimes or non-cannabis drug offenses in BC.

Property Crimes by BC HSDA
Property crime is often related to illicit drug use, and many of these types of crimes are committed to obtain money to purchase drugs.

Hospital emergency departments (EDs) are ideal settings to identify and monitor emerging trends in risky patterns of alcohol and other substance use that increase the risk of injury, overdose or poisoning, and many of the acute harms caused by excessive substance use. Such acute effects contribute to the bulk of alcohol- and drug-caused deaths in Canada but are not systematically monitored. A great proportion of trauma is found in EDs where alcohol and other drugs have been shown as a major risk factor for injury..

This dataset contains information collected from surveys initiated in two BC sites, Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) in Vancouver and Royal Jubilee Hospital (RJH) in Victoria, designed to monitor patterns and trends among individuals presenting to Emergency Departments (EDs) late and night and in the early hours of the morning on weekends. This population was selected because it is known to have a high rate of prior psychoactive substance use contributing to injury or illness. The ability to monitor the proportion of ED patients who use or misuse substances, the characteristics of their substance use and related harms may therefore serve as an early warning system for substance problems in the greater population. To date, four waves of survey data collection have been completed in both sites: 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Data collection for this study stopped in September of 2011.



Self-Report Substance Use in the past 30 Days, Vancouver and Victoria
Around 90% of people attending the emergency room on a late weekend night in Vancouver and 95% of those in Victoria reported having used alcohol in the thirty days previous to the onset of their illness or injury in 2011.
Data Table(s)

Self-Report Substance Use in the 6 Hours Previous to Illness or Injury, Vancouver and Victoria
Nearly one quarter of people attending the emergency room on a late weekend night in Vancouver and just over 30% in Victoria reported having used alcohol in the six hours previous to the onset of their illness or injury in 2011.
Data Table(s)

AUDIT and ASSIST score classifications (alcohol and other drugs) in the past Year, Vancouver and Victoria
Just under a quarter of interviewees attending the emergency department on a late weekend night in Vancouver and 32% in Victoria between 2008 and 2011 self-reported either moderate or high risk alcohol consumption in the past year as assessed by the AUDIT.
Data Table(s)

Breathalyzer and Drug Swab Test Results, Vancouver and Victoria
In 2011 in Vancouver, 14% of attendees had positive breathalyzer tests and 10% had positive drug swab tests for at least one drug.  In Victoria in 2011, twenty percent of ED attendees showed positive results on the breathalyser test and five percent had positive results for at least one drug on the saliva drug swab test
Data Table(s)
Recent Trends in Substance Use in BC


According to data from the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, patterns of substance use that are associated with increased risks and harms have been decreasing in BC since 2008. There was a significantly decreased trend in the prevalence of alcohol drinking for chronic harms (i.e., drinking above the Canadian guidelines for low risk drinking for weekly consumption--16+ drinks in men and 11+ drinks in women) from 2008 to 2012 and past year smoking. There was also a decreased trend in the prevalence of alcohol drinking for acute harms (i.e., drinking above the upper limits for low-risk daily consumption of 5+ drinks in men or 4+ drinks for women as recommended by the Canadian Low Risk Drinking Guidelines), past year cannabis use and other illicit drug use but it was not statistically significant.

For more detailed discussions, see the articles below as well as the links to data tables and reports on the right. In particular the Prevalence Report 2008-2012 provides estimates of the prevalence of alcohol and illicit drug use in BC using 2008-2012 CADUMS data broken down by geographic region.



Alcohol Use in BC and Canada by Gender, 2008-2012
In both BC and other provinces of Canada, more males drank alcohol for chronic and acute harms  than females during the period 2008-2012.

Tobacco Use in BC and Canada by Gender, 2008-2012
Men were significantly more likely than women to use tobacco in both BC and the rest of Canada for all years from 2008 to 2012.

Cannabis Use in BC and Canada by Gender, 2008-2012
In both BC and other provinces of Canada, more males used cannabis than females in the past year for the period 2008-2012.

Other Illicit Substance Use in BC and Canada by Gender, 2008-2012
In both BC and other provinces of Canada, more males used other illicit drugs excluding cannabis than females in the past year for the period 2008-2012

Cannabis Use in BC by HSDA 2008-09
At the health service delivery area (HSDA) level, the prevalence of lifetime cannabis use was highest in Kootenay Boundary (62%) and lowest in Richmond (35%).
Data Table(s)

Substance use patterns vary significantly across different high risk populations. While alcohol, cannabis and tobacco are commonly used in all three populations tracked by the High Risk Populations Study, other substance use patterns vary by population. In the latter of half of 2012, street involved youth and people who use drugs recreationally were more likely to use powder cocaine than crack, whereas over 70% of street involved adults used crack in the past month. On the other hand over 79% of  respondents who use drugs recreationally reported using ecstasy in the past month. Twenty-three percent of street involved youth, and only 1% of street involved adults, had used ecstasy in the same period.

For more details, see Overview.



Prescription Opioid Use by Street Involved Adults and Youth
Looking prescription opioids, reported use of methadone among street involved adults in Vancouver in the past month was substantially higher than in Victoria. Past month use of other opioids such as heroin, morphine and dilaudid while currently on methadone maintenance was prevalent in both cities.
Data Table(s)

Ecstasy Use in High Risk Populations
Ecstasy use has been rising steadily in recent years among people who use drugs recreationally in Vancouver (past month use went from about 50% in 2008 to over 70% in early 2012), according to data from the High Risk Populations Study.
Data Table(s)

Substance Use by Street Involved Youth
While street involved youth in both Vancouver and Victoria have fairly high lifetime rates of cocaine, ecstasy and mushroom use, less than half report using cocaine and ecstasy during the past 30 days. On the other hand, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are widely used in this cohort even when assessing the more recent time frame (past 30 day usage).
Data Table(s)

Substance Use by Recreational Cohort
The data from the recreational adult cohort suggests that legal and quasi-legal substances such as alcohol and marijuana are used almost universally in the Vancouver and Victoria club and party drug scenes. In the most recent wave, ecstasy and cocaine were fairly extensively used in both cities in the past month while use of heroin, crack, and crystal meth was relatively uncommon in both Vancouver & Victoria.
Data Table(s)

Substance Use by Street Involved Adults
Among the street involved adult drug users interviewed in Vancouver and Victoria,  lifetime ecstasy use was relatively low and alcohol continued to have a steep decline in prevalence from lifetime to last week usage compared to the recreational adult and street involved youth cohorts.
Data Table(s)

Harms Experienced Due to Substance Use
Participants were asked to indicate whether they had experienced harms in the last 12 months due to drugs or alcohol.
Data Table(s)

Crack Pipe & Needle Sharing and Injection Drug Use
Overall, across 10 waves, active IDU participants in the adult street involved cohort in Victoria reported sharing needles significantly more often than the IDU participants in Vancouver. No statistically significant trend differences were seen within the two cities across time.
Data Table(s)

Medical conditions attributable to tobacco were the primary contributor to substance related hospitalizations in BC in 2011 followed by alcohol and illicit drugs. There were 28,206 tobacco-related, 21,542 alcohol-related and 4,326 drug-related hospitalizations across BC in 2011. Medical conditions attributable to tobacco were also the primary contributor to substance related deaths in BC in 2011 followed by alcohol and illicit drugs. In BC in 2011, 4,861 deaths can be attributed to tobacco, 1,191 deaths can be attributed to alcohol, and 325 deaths can be attributed to illicit drugs.



BC Hospitalizations and Deaths Related to Substance Use
Medical conditions attributable to tobacco were the primary contributor to substance related hospitalizations and deaths in BC in 2011 followed by alcohol and illicit drugs.
Data Table(s)

BC Hospitalizations and Deaths Related to Alcohol, Tobacco and Illicit Drugs
The rate of tobacco-related hospitalizations in BC decreased significantly between 2002 and 2011 whereas the rate of hospitalizations in BC for conditions related to alcohol has shown a significant increase during that same time period, which reflects the overall increasing consumption of alcohol in BC. Mortality rates in BC for tobacco related conditions declined significantly between 2002 and 2011.
Data Table(s)

Hospitalization and Deaths for BC by Health Authority, Health Service Delivery Area and Local Health Areas - Alcohol Related
Northern Health Authority had the highest rate of hospitalizations and deaths in BC in 2011 for conditions related to alcohol followed by Interior Health Authority,Vancouver Island, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Fraser Health Authority. Northern was the health authority with the highest rate of deaths for conditions related to alcohol use in BC in 2011 followed by Interior, Vancouver Island, Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health authorities.
Data Table(s)

Hospitalization and Deaths for BC by Health Authority, Health Service Delivery Area and Local Health Areas - Tobacco Related
In 2011, Northern Health Authority had the highest overall rate of hospital discharges and deaths for conditions related to tobacco use followed by Interior, Fraser, Vancouver Island and Vancouver Coastal health authorities. Northern was the health authority with the highest rate of deaths for conditions related to tobacco use in BC in 2011 followed by Interior, Vancouver Island, Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities.
Data Table(s)

Hospitalization and Deaths for BC by Health Authority, Health Service Delivery Area and Local Health Areas - Illicit Drug Related
Northern Health Authority had the highest rate of hospital discharges for conditions related to illicit drug use in BC in 2011 followed by Interior, Vancouver Island, Fraser  and Vancouver Coastal. Vancouver Island was the health authority with the highest rate of deaths for conditions related to illicit drug use in BC in 2011 followed by Interior, Vancouver Coastal, Northern and Fraser health authorities.
Data Table(s)

Hospitalizations and Deaths for BC Health Authorities - Alcohol Related
Northern Health Authority had the highest rate of hospitalizations for conditions related to alcohol use in BC in 2011 followed by Interior, Vancouver Island, Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health Authorities. Northern was the health authority with the highest overall rate of deaths for conditions related to alcohol in BC in 2011, followed by Interior, Vancouver Island, Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health Authority.
Data Table(s)

Hospitalizations and Deaths for BC Health Authorities - Illicit Drug Related
Overall, Northern Health Authority had the highest rate of hospital discharges for conditions related to illicit drug use in BC in 2011 followed by Interior, Fraser, Vancouver Island and Vancouver Coastal health authorities. Vancouver Island was the health authority with the highest rate of deaths for conditions related to illicit drug use in BC in 2011 followed by Fraser, Interior, Vancouver Coastal, Northern and Northern health authorities.
Data Table(s)

Hospitalizations and Deaths for BC Health Authorities - Tobacco Related
In 2011, Northern Health Authority had the highest overall rate of hospital discharges for conditions related to tobacco use followed by Interior, Fraser, Vancouver Island and Vancouver Coastal health authorities. Northern was the health authority with the highest rate of deaths attributable to tobacco related conditions in 2009 followed by Interior, Vancouver Island, Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities.
Data Table(s)


BC Hospitalizations and Deaths Related to Substance Use by Illness Categories
In 2011 tobacco was the most substantial contributor to the rate of cardiovascular, cancer, pulmonary and other medical event (e.g., low birth weight, SID syndrome) hospitalizations attributable to substance use in BC. In 2011, tobacco was the primary contributor to cardiovascular, cancer, and pulmonary deaths attributable to substance use in BC.

Hospitalizations and Deaths for BC Health Authorities by Illness Categories - Alcohol Related
Injuries and overdoses attributable to alcohol were the primary contributor to alcohol related hospitalizations and deaths within health authorities in BC in 2011.
Data Table(s)

Hospitalizations and Deaths for BC Health Authorities by Illness Categories- Tobacco Related
Cardiovascular conditions attributable to tobacco were the primary contributor to tobacco related hospitalizations within BC health authorities in 2011. Cancer attributable to tobacco was the primary contributor to tobacco related deaths within BC health authorities in 2011.
Data Table(s)

Hospitalizations and Deaths for BC Health Authorities by Illness Categories - Illicit Drug Related
Injury and overdose events attributable to illicit drugs were the primary contributor to illicit drug related hospitalizations and deaths within health authorities in BC in 2011.
Data Table(s)


Hospitalizations and Deaths by Age and Gender - Tobacco Related
Gender and age specific rates for tobacco-related morbidity and mortality are presented above. As tobacco-related morbidity and mortality tend to manifest over a number of years, rates were substantially higher for the age group of sixty-five and over.Overall, morbidity and mortality rates attributable to tobacco showed a downward trend or remained fairly steady for all age groups between 2002 and 2008. Rates were higher for men than for women in all age groups.
Data Table(s)

Hospitalizations and Deaths by Age and Gender - Illicit Drug Related
Unlike tobacco-related hospitalisations, illicit drug-related morbidity rates tend to be higher for the younger age groups with rates decreasing as people get older. Mortality rates for the age groups 25 to 44 and 45 to 64 were the highest for both males and females. Males had higher rates of hospitalisations and deaths attributable to illicit drugs than females overall.
Data Table(s)

Hospitalizations and Deaths by Age and Gender - Alcohol Related
Age and gender specific alcohol-related morbidity and mortality rates are presented in the graphs below. Hospitalisation and death rates attributable to alcohol tend to increase with age and those 45 to 64 and older than 65 have the highest rates overall for both males and females. Males also have substantially higher rates than females for both morbidity and mortality related to alcohol.
Data Table(s)

 

In 2010, the most frequently identified controlled drug or substance in analysed exhibits from British Columbia seizures was marijuana (6,072) followed by cocaine/crack cocaine (3,634). Looking at trends over time, marijuana has historically had substantially higher numbers of exhibits analysed since 1997 and the numbers peaked around the year 2000 and started a decreasing trend to 2006 from which point it has shown more fluctuation. For cocaine/crack cocaine, the numbers were also fairly substantial and increased fairly steadily until about 2008 when numbers started to decrease.

For further details see Overview



Other Substances Found in Exhibits
Substances from drug seizures analyzed by DAS often contain multiple substances or adulterants. Although the system does not identify the percentage of each substance within each exhibit, having indications that exhibits contain more than one substance provides strategic information regarding the illicit drug market. Drug adulterations have important implications from a health promotion perspective as well as from drug user and law enforcement perspectives.
Data Table(s)

By Health Authority
Information on prevalence of exhibits analysed from seized drugs by Health Authority is obtained from the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) maintained by Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service (DAS). LIMS is used to record the results from the chemical composition analysis of exhibits from suspected illegal substances seized by Canadian police and Canada Border Services Agency officers; LIMS does not have record of the quantity of drug seized.
Data Table(s)

Quantity
Information on quantity of seized drugs is collected through the Controlled Drugs and Substances Database (CDSD) at Health Canada. The CDSD contains information pertaining to all seized drugs in Canada as recorded by police and Canada Border Services Agency officers. Substances seized may be in different forms (e.g., capsules, tablets, liquid or kilograms, etc.) and the information recorded at time of seizure includes the measurement units for the substance(s).
Data Table(s)

Trends

Information on prevalence of exhibits from seized drugs is obtained from the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) maintained by Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service (DAS). LIMS is used to record the results from the chemical composition analysis of suspected illegal substances seized by Canadian police and Canada Border Services Agency officers and submitted to DAS for analysis. LIMS does not have record of the quantity of drug seized.


Data Table(s)

Consequences of Substance Use
Because older teens are more likely to use substances, a larger percentage also reported negative consequences from substance use. As Figure 1 indicates, around 40% of 18-year-old students had experienced at least one related consequence while less than 5% of students aged 12 or younger reported any harms related to substance use in the past year.

Risky Alcohol and Marijuana Use
One quarter of all students in BC drank alcohol the Saturday prior to filling out the survey. These students were divided into low-risk drinkers (one or two drinks), elevated-risk drinkers (three or four drinks), high-risk drinkers (between five and 10 drinks) and the highest-risk highest-risk drinkers (more than 10 drinks). About 17% of students fell within the two highest-risk categories of drinking last Saturday while just fewer than 9% reported low- or elevated-risk drinking the previous Saturday.

Students Who Have Ever Tried Substances
Alcohol emerged as the most commonly tried substance by BC youth at all ages between 1998 and 2008. However, overall rates of students’ ever trying alcohol, marijuana and tobacco in BC have been steadily declining over the last 10 years. The AHS IV showed that fewer young people had tried alcohol at some point than in earlier surveys.

Summary of findings

  • a methodology was developed for police to collect information on apparent substance use, violence and mental health issues during the course of their duties
  • a brief card was completed following 936 incidents judged by the officer to have involved substance use
  • there were some problems with recording the total number of incidents in every shift but it is conservatively estimated that 33% of all incidents police dealt with involved substance use
  • overall, alcohol was the main substance involved in incidents followed closely by crack
  • alcohol was significantly more likely to be associated with violent incidents compared with other substance use
  • of all the districts, the Beat Enforcement Team in the Downtown Eastside recorded the lowest proportion of alcohol-related contacts and the highest proportion of drug-related contacts
  • there was evidence of a substantial increase in substance related incidents on a Welfare Wednesday
  • findings suggest that police officers may benefit from specialized training as substance-related contacts form such a large part of their work


Substance Related Contacts by Data Collection Period
The more frequent reports of drug and alcohol related contacts during the day in Time 3, as was previously predicted, is very likely explained by the commonly held police hypothesis that there is a causal relationship between the dissemination of welfare cheques to individuals with major mental health problems, including addictions, and the increase in police contacts involving substance use.

Substance Related Contacts and Violence
The expected relationship between violence and alcohol was found; one-quarter of instances with either confirmed alcohol use (26 per cent) or suspected alcohol use (25 per cent) indicated violence, whereas violence was only recorded in 13% of cases without alcohol use.

Substance Related Contacts
When based on the analysis of the individual 936 cards, at the time of the police contact, nearly three-quarters of the individuals (71 per cent) were identified as being under the influence of alcohol, while nearly one-third (31 per cent) were coded as under the influence of drugs. Less than one-tenth (7 per cent) was coded as under the influence of both drugs and alcohol.

Substance Related Contacts by District
The BET District and District Two were the least likely to have alcohol-related contacts, and the most likely to have contacts with individuals under the influence or in possession of crack. The most common substance in the other districts was alcohol. Nonetheless, in these other Districts, it was unexpected that after alcohol, when a contact was impaired by a drug or in possession of a drug, the most common substance was crack.

Other Sources for Stats

Statistics can measure indicators and trends and help paint a picture of the individual, social and environmental factors that influence health and wellbeing in your community. Data on your community or region may be available from the following sources.

BCStats - Socio Economic Indices
Comparative measures among BC regions of economic factors, crime, health problems, education concerns, children at risk and youth at risk.

Fraser Health - Health Profiles
An overview of the health of the population in Fraser Heath region, focusing on non-medical determinants of health and health status.

Interior Health - Local Health Area Profiles
Highlights of key characteristics in health status, health system performance, and health services in the Interior Health region.

Northern Health - Health and Wellbeing of Men and Boys
The context within which northern men live, their health status and some of the initiatives being undertaken to improve men's health.

Vancouver Coastal Health - Population Health
Data showing key health factors, including information on disparities in health outcomes, and opportunities for addressing these differences.