(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

As Canadians struggled with the isolation and “new normal” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, many turned to substances like alcohol and cannabis to help them cope.

According to a new survey from Statistics Canada released Thursday (March 4), 16 per cent of people reported using cannabis in the past 30 days. The survey, which was carried out from Jan. 25-31, found that 34 per cent of prior users increased their cannabis use during the pandemic. The main reasons for the increase were stress at 65 per cent, boredom at 58 per cent and loneliness at 39 per cent.

Of the people who had used cannabis previously, 25 per cent decreased their usage and 54 per cent consumed the same amount.

Researchers also looked at alcohol consumption. Of the people surveyed, 66 per cent said they consumed alcohol at least once in the past 30 days.

Researchers found that 54 per cent of people who previously consumed alcohol consumed the same amount during the pandemic, while 24 per cent said they had more and 22 said they had less.

For people who increased how much alcohol they consumed, the reasons were similar to those provided by people who increased the amount of cannabis they consumed.

Researchers found that the people most likely to increase how much alcohol they consumed if they were more stressed out. Forty-one per cent of responded who described the pandemic as “very stressful” or “extremely stressful” saw their alcohol consumption increase, compared to 16 per cent of people who found the pandemic “a little stressful” and “not at all stressful.”

Isolation also increased drinking; 33 per cent of those who felt isolated during the pandemic increased their drinking, compared to 12 per cent of those who did not.

READ MORE: Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?


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