Metro Vancouverites Endorse Various Ideas to Curb Opioid Crisis

Still, opioids are way behind public safety, housing and the economy on the list of priorities for  municipal governments.

Vancouver, BC [June 7, 2023] – There is high public support in Metro Vancouver for specific actions that could be taken to deal with the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative sample of Metro Vancouver residents, more than four-in-five respondents (81%) agree with promoting abstinence, rehabilitation and recovery.

Almost seven-in-ten Metro Vancouverites (69%) agree with regulating the drug supply to ensure that users do not die from tainted substances, while just over three-in-five (61%) are in favour of establishing tougher sentences for people charged and convicted of drug possession.

More than seven-in-ten Metro Vancouverites endorse both voluntary (77%) and mandatory (72%) treatment for individuals with substance use or addiction issues.

“Support for a properly regulated drug supply in Metro Vancouver is highest among residents aged 18-to-34 (77%),” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Majorities of those aged 35-to-54 (64%) and aged 55 and over (67%) are also in agreement.”

Respondents to this survey were provided with a list of six different priorities for their municipal government. More than two thirds of Metro Vancouverites want to focus primarily on either public safety (35%) or housing, homelessness and poverty (33%).

The rating as the most important priority is lower for the economy and jobs (17%), opioids (10%), municipal services (4%) and infrastructure (also 4%).

More than two-in-five Metro Vancouverites aged 35-to-54 (43%) and aged 55 and over (45%) placed opioids as their least important priority. The proportion is lower among those aged 18-to-34 (26%).

When asked why they think people use prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs in their community, more than seven-in-ten Metro Vancouverites (71%) believe it is to escape or abandon reality, while more than half (56%) think this is done to numb physical pain.

About two-in-five Metro Vancouverites (39%) think prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs are used in their community for fun or to experiment—a proportion that rises to 47% among those aged 18-to-34.

More than half of Metro Vancouverites (55%) have encountered empty bottles or cans of alcoholic beverages on the street or in a park. About a third (33%) have also found used needles in public places, while 28% have come across pipes or other drug paraphernalia on the street or in a park.

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from May 19 to May 21, 2023, among 600 adults in Metro Vancouver. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Metro Vancouver. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e]

Photo Credit: Hisakazu Watanabe