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How Have Drugs and Alcohol Shaped Canadian Society?

By mits157 Jun 03, 2012 1849 Words
Topic: How have drugs and alcohol shaped Canadian society?

Word Count: 1807 Words

How have drugs and alcohol shaped Canadian society? The use of alcohol and other drugs has always been a part of the Canadian society.  While having a glass of wine with dinner or a pain tablet for a headache is rarely a problem, excessive or inappropriate use of alcohol or other drugs (including prescription drugs) can interfere with daily life and negatively affect work, relationships, physical and mental health. When we study the harmful impact of substances in Canada, cannabis, tobacco and alcohol are often the focus. In this essay, I ’am going explain the pattern of consumption of drugs and alcohol by both youth and adults in Canada. Furthermore, I will also show the usage of drugs and alcohol by Chinese and South Asian in Canada. And at last I will explain the upcoming government policy of mandatory testing of drugs and alcohol in sports by using example of Ben Johnson. Drug use is a complex behaviour that is influenced by many factors. There are many different perspectives on the use of drugs including ethical and moral frameworks. It is not possible to identify a single cause for drug use, nor will the set of contributing factors be the same among different drug users and populations. “Public health objectives will vary depending upon the circumstances: preventing drug use in those who have not initiated use (e.g. pre-teens); avoiding use in circumstances associated with a risk of adverse outcomes (e.g. drug use and driving motor vehicle); assisting those who wish to stop using the drug (e.g. treatment, rehabilitation); and assisting those who intend to continue to use the drug to do so in such a manner as to reduce the risk of adverse effects (e.g. needle exchange program to reduce risk of HIV)” (Perron and Finnerty ). Similarly, Alcohol enjoys enormous popularity and special social and cultural significance in Canada. It serves a variety of functions – including relaxation, socialization and celebration. “It plays a significant role in the Canadian economy, creating jobs, retail activity, and export income and tax revenue” (Perron and Finnerty ). But when consumed in high level, it can impair motor skills and judgment, lead to intoxication and dependence, cause illness and death, and have other harmful effects on our daily social, economic and living environments. According to recent studies conducted in Canada, generally in summer, youth have more time on their hands. There are many things that they do including playing a sport, or hanging out with their friends. Unfortunately, there are two more alternatives - alcohol and drug abuse. Alcohol and drugs are in every country, and are accessible to youth. The two main reasons among youth to get drunk is either they are living a boring life or just for sake to have fun and get drunk. Some parents are sick and tired of seeing teens throw their lives away. But in recent years the temptation among teens on getting drunk is getting lower. “This was proved when survey by Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS) 2010 which claims that the prevalence of past-year cannabis use decreased, among youth aged 15 to 24 years, from 37.0% in 2004 to 25.1% in 2010 and the use of at least one of 5 illicit drugs (cocaine or crack, speed, hallucinogens, ecstasy, and heroin) decreased from 11.3% in 2004 to 7.0% in 2010. Overall, 1.6% of Canadians reported using Salvia in their lifetime and 0.3% reported use in the past year. The prevalence of lifetime use among youth (15-24 years of age) was 6.6% while only 0.6% of adults reported having ever used this substance and Less than three quarters of youth (71.5%) reported consuming alcohol in the past year. This is a decrease from 2004 when 82.9% of youth reported past-year use of alcohol” (Drug and Alcoholic use Statistics). The reducing percentage of the use of alcohol and drugs among the youth is due to there were programs arranged in schools, colleges and universities which made them aware about the after effects of consuming alcohol and drugs parents made their children to indulge in sports and some extracurricular activities in schools, colleges and universities, which could keep them busy and away from consumption of alcohol and drugs. Similarly, the percentage of consumption of alcohol and drugs among the individuals going to work, generally, aged between 15 and older, was also reduced. The reducing results among the individuals that were employed was due to they were living a stress free life. “This was seen when the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS) 2010 proved that Among Canadians 15 years and older, the prevalence of past-year cannabis use decreased from 14.1% in 2004 to 10.7% in 2010 and the prevalence of past-year cocaine or crack decreased from 1.9% in 2004 to 1.2% in 2010, while past-year use of hallucinogens (0.9%), ecstasy (0.7%) and speed (0.5%) is comparable to the rates of use reported in 2004. The rates of psychoactive pharmaceutical use and abuse remains comparable to the rates reported in 2009: 26.0% of respondents aged 15 years and older indicated that they had used an opioid pain reliever, a stimulant, or a sedative or tranquilizer in the past year while 0.3% reported that they used any of these drugs to get high in the past year” (Drug and Alcoholic use Statistics). People living in Canada come from many different cultural and racial backgrounds. These people generally American, Southeast Asian, Arab, West Asian, Japanese, Korean, Aboriginal and many more. Chinese and South Asians are the two largest visible minority populations in Canada. “As per the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS) percent reporting substance use in the past 12 months among Chinese population and South Asian population living in Canada are as follows: Current alcohol drinking percentage by Chinese is 63.5% and by South Asians is 41% & the current drug use in terms of percentage by Chinese is 4.2 and by South Asians is 5.2%” (Nakamura, Ialomiteanu and Rehm). From the above data provided by CADUMS, it can be clearly said that South Asians were less likely to report current drinking as compared with Chinese participants and Chinese are less likely to report current drug use as compared to South Asian participants. These differences between Chinese and South Asian participants reflect the importance of examining substance use by ethnic group rather than putting them together into a racialized category of ethnic groups to get a clearer picture of particular substance use problems. Such data are also needed for ethnic specific prevention programs, which have proven necessary in other health fields as well. Comparing the present day situation of usage drugs and alcohol in Canada to the 1960’s and 1970’s, I found that illicit drug use, especially by Canadian youth, became an objective reality and the focus of a subjective moral panic. In 1969, there were only 2,000 convictions for marijuana and hashish offences. By the early 1970s, from the point of view of police, lawmakers, educators, and parents, the key issue was the rapid proliferation of marijuana and other soft drugs. “In 1976, 96% of federal drug offence convictions were cannabis related, which later reduced to 83% of federal drug offence convictions were cannabis related” (Marquis). After the Second World War, the authorities used the Narcotics Control Act to control the more visible user of heroine, as well as importers and dealers. This work was carried out by RCMP and local police drug squads and the Division of Narcotics Control of the Department of National Health and Welfare maintained files on known addicts. “As of 1969, the division had files on 4,060 addicts and the estimated number of addicts was low, perhaps equivalent to 1% of the number of alcoholics in Canada” (Marquis). As a result, the decade of the 1960s and 1970s ended with public anxieties about the "drug problem". The liberalization of alcohol controls in the 1960s and 1970s was not uncontested. Although the Controlled Substance and Drugs Act, the Narcotic Control Act (NCA) and the Foods and Drug Act (FDA), Canadian athlete Ben Johnson was accused of substance used in sports during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. Ben Johnson’s record setting in the 100-metre sprint, Olympic officials announced that the Canadian athlete had tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid. “Johnson was suspended from International competition for two years by the International Amateur Athlete Federation (IAAF) and was banned for life from national from Sports Minister Jean Charest” (Trossman). In-order to put strict vigilance on the illegal use of drugs and alcohol in sports, the government of Canada is trying to develop a policy in which people have to do mandatory drug and alcohol testing in sports. Testing for alcohol or drugs is a form of medical examination. This policy will encourage early detection, facilitate early intervention, and, when appropriate, provide support for the sports person to address the problem and offer practical assistance with returning to his activity after treatment. Having a clear and fair policy on substance use creates and reinforces the expectation that sportsmen should arrive fit for on ground and remain so throughout the day. Finally, applying the policy consistently across all levels of the organization, without exceptions, sends a message that the policy is fair and applicable to all. Concluding above, we can see that drugs and alcohol played a major role shaping Canada’s history after the data produced from survey. It was found that initially the usage of drug and alcohol in 1960s and 1970s was high but it started reducing at the end of 1980s because of the strict action and various Acts and also high vigilance on in the country. Because of the case of Ben Johnson, Canadians have realized that the use of drug and alcohol at certain special occasions can make the country feel shame and it also violates the Acts. Hence the idea of mandatory testing of drugs & alcohol by government of Canada was a good idea.

Drug and Alcoholic use Statistics. n.d. 2 april 2012. <>. Marquis, Greg. "From Beverage to Drug: Alcohol and Other Drugs in 1960s and 1970s Canada." Journal of Canadian Studies (2005): 57. Nakamura, Nadine, et al. "Prevalence and characteristics of substance use among Chinese and south Asians in Canada." Journal of ethnicity in substance abuse (2011): 39-47. Perron, Michel and Murray Finnerty . "Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm in Canada: Toward a Culture of Moderation: Recommendations for a National Alcohol Strategy." National Alcohol Strategy Working Group (2007): 37. Trossman, Jeff. "Mandatory drug testing in sports: the law in Canada." University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review (1988): 191. Clark, Heather. "A coordinated approach to student drug use surveys in Canada".

Contemporary Drug Problems(2009): 409.

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