Drug Use and Offending

Q5. How is the health care system affected by drug use and abuse?

Of the 3.2 million admissions to hospitals and deaths recorded in Canada in 1998/1999, less than 1% involved illicit drug poisoning.

Drug-related suicide attempts cause a majority of hospitalization due to poisoning

Of the 30,423 hospitalizations for illicit drug poisoning in Canada in 1998/1999, the majority of hospitalizations were related to a suicide attempt (57%). Poisoning and accidental poisoning constituted a little over one-fifth (22%) of hospitalizations while one-in-ten (9%) individuals admitted to a dependence or abuse of illicit drugs. Drug psychosis constituted 7% of all hospitalizations for illicit drug poisoning while less than 5% of hospitalizations were for non-dependent abuse of drugs.

Over the past three years, there has been a 10% decrease in the total number of hospitalizations due to drug poisoning in Canada (from 33,818 hospitalizations in 1996/97 to 30,423 hospitalizations in 1998/1999). Decreases were reported for most of the categories reported above. The largest decrease was reported for suicides (-13%) while a small increase for non-dependent abuse of drugs was reported (+2%) (See Appendix B, Table 2 for more information).

The majority of illicit drug-related deaths are suicides

In 1998, almost 900 deaths in Canada were attributed to illicit drug use or abuse, the majority of which were related to suicide (55%), followed by illicit drug poisoning (42%). Less than 3% of all deaths attributed to poisoning involved drug psychosis and drug dependence/abuse.

Between 1996 and 1998, there has been an 18% increase in the total number of drug-related deaths in Canada (from 752 to 886). While drug poisoning deaths increased 74% between those years, drug-related suicides decreased only 7%. Deaths related to drug dependence/abuse increased from 11 deaths in 1996 to 24 deaths in 1998 (See Appendix B, Table 3 for more information).

Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information, Hospital Morbidity Database (1996/97, 1997/98 and 1998/1999) and Statistics Canada. Causes of Death 1996, 1997 and 1998.


Actual incidents:
When a crime is reported to the police, the incident is recorded as a "reported" incident. Police then conduct a preliminary investigation to determine the validity of the report. Occasionally, crimes reported to the police prove to be unfounded. Unfounded incidents are subtracted from the number of reported incidents to produce the number of "actual incidents".
Incidents Cleared by Charge:
When a police investigation leads to the identification of a suspect, an "information" is laid against that person (i.e. the person is formally charged). From a statistical point of view, the laying of an information means that at least one actual incident can be "cleared by charge".
Incidents Cleared Otherwise:
In some cases, police cannot lay an information even if they have identified a suspect and have enough evidence to support the laying of an information. Examples include cases of diplomatic immunity, instances where the complainant declines to proceed with charges against the accused, or cases where the alleged offender dies before he or she can be formally charged. Such incidents are considered to be "cleared otherwise", that is, other than by the laying of a charge.
Adult/ Youth Charged:
The UCR Survey also records the number of persons charged. For incidents that are cleared, the survey collects the number of adults charged by sex as well as the number of youth (aged 12 to 17 years) charged by sex. The "persons charged" category includes the number of people charged (not the number of charges laid) or recommended for charges by the police. A person who is simultaneously charged with more than one offence is counted according to the most serious offence, even if the offences occurred in more than one incident. In addition, persons may be counted more than once throughout the year, that is, individuals are counted on each occasion that they are charged by police .


Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. Canadian Crime Statistics 2000. Statistics Canada, Catalogue number 85-205-XPE, pp. 72-74.

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