Illicit drug use in Canada is more common among males than females and among those aged 20 to 24 years. Geographical differences in drug use also exist in Canada. For example, in 2017, 19 percent of those living in British Columbia reported cocaine/crack use in their lifetime, compared to only 5.7 percent of those living on Prince Edward Island. As with adults, cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug among teenagers in Canada, while dextromethorphan, or couch syrup, was the most commonly used medication to get high. As of 2019, around 6 percent of students in grades 7 to 12 reported that they had used dextromethorphan to get high, while 1.2 percent said they had used oxycodone.
As is the case in many other countries, opioids are responsible for most drug-related deaths in Canada. In 2018, opioids caused 12 deaths per 100,000 population, with the highest death rates found in British Columbia and Alberta. Opioid overdose deaths are more common among males and increasingly involve fentanyl or fentanyl analogues. In 2018, 100 percent of opioid overdose deaths in the Yukon and 88 percent of deaths in British Columbia involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogues.
From 2014 to 2015, over 82,400 individuals accessed publicly funded substance use treatment services in Ontario alone. Over 90 percent of Canadians in substance abuse recovery utilized 12-step mutual support groups, while 61 percent used residential addiction treatment programs. While 17 percent of Canadians in recovery stated they did not experience any barriers to starting recovery, around 55 percent stated that the biggest barrier to their recovery process was not being ready, not believing they had a problem, or not believing the problem was serious enough.