Canadians and Americans Want Holistic Approach on Opioids

Information, rehabilitation, appropriate prescriptions and “safe supply” are supported by large majorities of residents.

Vancouver, BC [October 6, 2020] – Residents of Canada and the United States are supportive of several measures to curb the opioid crisis, a new two-country Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of representative national samples, two-in-five Canadians (39%) and more than half of Americans (53%) describe the current situation related to the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs in their community as “a major problem.”

When asked about specific ideas to address the opioid crisis, more than four-in-ten respondents in the two countries (84% in Canada and 86% in the United States) agree with launching more education and awareness campaigns about drug use.

Support is also particularly high for creating more spaces for drug rehabilitation (78% in Canada and 81% in Canada), reducing the prescription of opioids by medical professionals (73% in Canada and 76% in the United States), and establishing “safe supply” programs where alternatives to opioids can be prescribed by health professionals (70% in Canada and 78% in the United States).

Three-in-five respondents (59% in Canada and 60% in the United States) agree with setting up more “harm reduction” strategies, such as legal supervised injection sites.

The notion of decriminalizing all drugs for personal use is more contentious. In Canada, 53% of respondents disagree with this idea, while 34% are in favour of it and 14% are not sure.

In the United States, 47% of respondents agree with decriminalizing all drugs for personal use, while 43% disagree and 10% are undecided.

Across North America, the decriminalization of all drugs for personal use is more popular with men (36% in Canada and 61% in the United States) and respondents aged 35-to-54 (37% in Canada and 69% in the United States).

“Only 25% of Conservative Party voters in Canada are willing to decriminalize all drugs for personal use, compared to 38% of those who supported the Liberal Party in the last federal election,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “In the United States, 55% of Republican Party supporters are in favour of decriminalization, along with 47% of Democrats.”

In Canada, just over a third of respondents (35%) say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government have done a “very good” or “good” job to come up with solutions to deal with the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs, while 39% deem it “bad” or “very bad” and 26% are not sure.

The rating on this issue is higher for premiers and provincial governments (43%), mayors and councils (40%), provincial legislators (39%) and the local Member of Parliament (38%).

In the United States, governors and state administrations have the highest satisfaction rating in dealing with the opioid crisis (58%), along with mayors and local governments (also 58%). The numbers are lower for President Donald Trump and the federal government (46%) and Congress (44%).


Results are based on online studies conducted from September 4 to September 6, 2020, among representative samples of 1,000 adults in Canada and 1,200 adults in the United States. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian and U.S. census figures for age, gender and region in each country. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points for Canada and +/- 2.8 percentage points for the United States

Find our Canadian tables here, our American tables here and download the press release here.

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.