Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 96, Issue 6, pp 459–461 | Cite as

Prescription Drug Abuse in Canada and the Diversion of Prescription Drugs into the Illicit Drug Market

  • Emma Haydon
  • Jürgen RehmEmail author
  • Benedikt Fischer
  • Neerav Monga
  • Edward Adlaf


Prescription drug abuse has received considerable attention in media reports in recent years. The purpose of this article is to describe the Canadian situation and context with regards to prescription drug abuse and the diversion of psychotropic prescription drugs into the illicit drug market, with a focus on the need for more data and interventions. Canada ranks within the top 10% of countries in the use of benzodiazepines, opioid prescriptions and stimulants. There are many ways that prescription drugs are diverted into the illicit market and varied reasons for use and abuse. Prescription drug abuse is further related to a number of negative consequences, including overdose. While seniors and women have been the primary focus for research in Canada on prescription drug abuse, adolescents and young adults have received less attention. Systematic epidemiological data specifically on prescription drug abuse in the Canada context are lacking and are needed in order to more clearly understand the reasons for the phenomenon and to develop and implement appropriate interventions.

MeSH terms

Prescriptions, drug Canada adolescents drugs of abuse 


L’abus des médicaments sur ordonnance reçoit beaucoup d’attention dans les médias depuis quelques années. Cet article décrit la situation canadienne à l’égard de ce type d’abus et du détournement des médicaments sur ordonnance vers le marché clandestin, en insistant sur le besoin de données et de mesures supplémentaires. Le Canada se classe parmi les 10 % des pays qui consomment le plus de benzodiazépines, de stimulants et d’opiacés sur ordonnance. Il existe de nombreux moyens de détourner les médicaments sur ordonnance vers le marché clandestin, et la consommation et l’abus des médicaments peuvent avoir des causes diverses. De plus, l’abus des médicaments sur ordonnance entraîne plusieurs conséquences négatives, dont les surdoses. Les études canadiennes sur l’abus des médicaments sur ordonnance portent principalement sur les personnes âgées et les femmes, mais beaucoup moins sur les adolescents et les jeunes adultes. On manque de données épidémiologiques systématiques sur l’abus des médicaments sur ordonnance au Canada; de telles données permettraient de mieux comprendre les raisons de ce phénomène et d’élaborer et de mettre en œuvre des interventions appropriées.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emma Haydon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jürgen Rehm
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Benedikt Fischer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Neerav Monga
    • 2
  • Edward Adlaf
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Addiction Research InstituteZurichSwitzerland

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