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A larger number (37%) feels the opioid crisis has had a negative impact on their community compared to COVID-19 (25%).

Vancouver, BC —As the ongoing opioid crisis in our Province gets worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, our latest poll shows that a significant minority of British Columbian residents and families have been directly impacted by it, the majority are concerned about the negative impact on their community and a majority also support a wide range of initiatives to tackle this ongoing problem.

The opioid crisis has had a direct impact on 13% of British Columbia residents when defined as someone in their immediate family having either struggled with an addition or having died from an overdose. Broadening this out to British Columbians’ circle of friends, the percentage who have been impacted jumps dramatically to 28%, including the 8% who know someone who has died from an overdose. When added together, a total of 31% of British Columbians have either had someone in their immediate family or circle of friends struggle with addiction or die from an overdose—triple the proportion who know someone who has COVID-19 or died from it (10%). Only 1% of BC know someone who has died from COVID-19, compared to 9% from a drug overdose. These numbers are equally high throughout all the regions of the province age groups and income levels.

When British Columbians were asked to assess the extent of the negative impact of drug addiction in their local community, the majority (81%) feel that the impact is either ‘extremely negative’ (37%) or ‘moderately negative’ (43%). A highly telling comparison is that there is a larger number (37%) who feel that the impact of the opioid crisis is extremely negative relative to the impact of COVID-19 (25%), yet on a total level, COVID-19 is seen to be slightly more concerning (91% total negative impact for COVID-19 and 81% for the opioid crisis).

There are a number of initiatives that BC residents support at extremely high levels in the ongoing efforts to tackle this crisis. At the top of the list is very strong support for further public awareness and educational campaigns about the dangers of fentanyl (96%, including 67% who ‘strongly support’). A nearly equally high number supports the idea of pursuing stronger penalties against people who import and traffic drugs (92%, including 74% who ‘strongly support’).

Several other initiatives hold similar overall levels of support, but slightly less levels of ‘strongly support’ including providing more spaces for drug rehabilitation (91%, including 59% who ‘strongly support’), and providing naloxone (that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose) to community workers (90%, including 60% who ‘strongly support’) or residents without a prescription (82%, including 48% who ‘strongly support’). Similar levels of support are found for providing more funding for addiction counsellors and social workers who work in this space (92%, including 60% who ‘strongly support) and prevention by having more stringent requirements for prescribing opioids such as oxycodone or Vicodin (89%, including 56% who ‘strongly support’).

A slightly lower proportion of British Columbians believe we should provide free fentanyl testing sites to ensure opioids are safe for users (77%, including 41% who ‘strongly support’). Nearly half of British Columbians are supportive (48%, including 22% who ‘strongly support’) of pursuing stronger penalties against people who are caught using drugs.

“While the opioid crisis in our province appears to be getting worse rather than better, our latest poll shows that this crisis has far-reaching impact on individual families and social networks of all demographic categories” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “And despite strong levels of support for a wide range of initiatives to help combat this crisis, our previous polls have shown our provincial government is not scoring highly on this particular issue, and that much more can be done. We must change how we view and deal with this ongoing crisis and demand better outcomes for opioid users.”

This research is dedicated to the memory of Port Moody teenager Gwynevere Staddon, my daughter’s friend who tragically died four years ago of a fentanyl overdose. Our goal is to raise the bar on awareness and education, and to inspire governments, stakeholder groups, citizens, parents and youth to take action and prevent further losses from this devastating problem.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 24 out of 25 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from September 3-7, 2020 among a sample of 880 BC residents. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West