Pubdate: Wed, 17 Dec 2003
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2003 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Alexandra Paul


Postal-code breakdown will target areas of abuse

THE first national study to offer snapshots of drug addiction by using
regional data from across Canada was launched yesterday.

An estimated 15,000 Canadians will be asked about their drug and alcohol use
- -- from smoking pot to drinking beer -- in phone interviews over the next
few months for the first national survey on addictions in almost 10 years.
About 1,000 people will be interviewed in Manitoba.

For the first time, the regional data will include Canadians' drinking,
smoking and drug habits -- broken down by the postal codes where they live,
Manitoba Addictions Foundation president John Borody said.

The data will be arranged into Canada's postal codes so policy planners can
zero in on places with heavy drug-abuse patterns and tailor their strategies
with more precision. Data from such categories as income and education
levels are already collected and arranged into postal-code areas.

Applying the technique to drug use will give policy planners a more detailed
snapshot of addiction patterns than they have ever had before, Borody said.

Borody, who is also president of a national umbrella group for provincial
addictions agencies called the Canadian Executive Council on Addictions,
said the Canadian Addictions Survey will be conducted from now until March
by Montreal pollster Joliceur and Associates. "This is going to give us two
things: First, it will provide background for Health Canada to calculate the
cost of drug and alcohol use to the health-care system," Borody said.

"The second thing it will do for us is give us provincial data so that the
provinces can set addictions policy."

The last survey in 1994 was a national study that showed, for instance, that
marijuana use by people from the age of 15 up was steadily declining
compared to use in earlier decades.

Experts predict the new study will show broad changes in how Canadians are
using drugs, whether they are legal drugs such as alcohol or illegal, such
as cocaine.

The final report is expected to be released in June.
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