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More Canadians leaning on drugs, alcohol to push through pandemic: survey

Last Updated May 19, 2021 at 1:50 pm EDT

EDMONTON — Are Canadians okay? More than a year into the pandemic, a new survey finds we’re relying on drugs and alcohol to get us through our days more than usual.

Those who use drugs or alcohol have increased their consumption by 50 per cent over the past 12 months – and those aren’t the only crutches propping us up.

“Almost half of people have increased their consumption of pornography, almost half have increased their use of gambling,” said Ronan Levy, the executive chairman of Field Trip Health.

“It starts to reflect a… world that is looking for ways to dealing with this [pandemic],” he said.

This comes as the weight of our mental health struggles grows even heavier with half of Canadians are showing “some degree of depression.”

RELATED: Cases of PTSD rising amid COVID-19 pandemic, says Canadian Mental Health Association

The survey also highlighted the inequity of the pandemic–30 per cent of women said their mental health was fair or poor, compared to 20 per cent of men.

“They are still primarily the caregivers for children. So, if you’re trying to balance a job and be a caregiver the stress must be enormous. So, it’s not entirely surprising that that would be the case,” explained Levy.

And younger Canadians are also more prone to feeling glum as the pandemic drags on.

“[They’re in] a time of life where you got to explore and really start to express your identity and understand who you [are] through all sorts of activists, particularly social ones. And in the context of a lockdown, all of that was pushed to the side.”

But the survey suggests that the pandemic has opened eyes with regards to how Canadians approach their mental well-being.

“We’re seeing 30 to 40 per cent increases in diagnoses of depression, so that’s people who actually go to a doctor and get a diagnosis indicating that they are depressed.”

The survey was conducted by a group that’s touting the use of psychedelics such as psilocybin and ketamine as an alternative therapy.

RELATED VIDEO:  The Psychedelic Frontier

The Canadian government has begun loosening access to these tools and given our collective mental health struggles, more people are coming around to considering this as an option in the future.

“One-third of people indicated that they would support the use of psychedelic-assisted therapies. Twenty per cent are open to trying it and another 25 per cent would be open to learning more,” he said.