Victoria: Drug and Alcohol Addiction, Rehabilitation and Recovery
General Information for Victoria
Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, lies on the southern point of Vancouver Island on the West Coast of Canada. The largest urban center on the Island of Vancouver, the Greater Victoria area houses 330,000 people. The city is also ranked the15th largest metropolitan area in Canada. However, Victoria has a disproportionately large retiree population, with slightly over six percent of residents aged 80 years and over and close to 18 percent 65 years and over.
The Port of Victoria is a working harbour; made up of three distinct sections, serving different traffic: the Outer Harbour for deep sea vessels, and the Inner and Upper Harbours for coastal and industrial vessels. However, the chief industries that compose Victoria’s economy are, surprisingly, not shipping-related. They are the technology, tourism, education, and government administration and service sectors. The Canadian Forces, for example, is a leading employer in the region. Recently, the high-tech industry overtook tourism as the leading sector for the first time.
However, due to its outcropped location, Victoria is a major cruise ship port, seeing as many as 3.5 million visitors a year. As such, arts and culture are thriving in the city. Downtown Victoria houses several nightclubs, restaurants, pubs, and public regional events. Annually, Victoria hosts the Electronic Music Festival. Along with several large museums and galleries, the city has its own symphony, Opera Company, philharmonic choir, and Ballet Company. Beacon Hill Park, with 75 hectares of green space, is yet another popular attraction for tourists and residents alike.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Addiction in Victoria
Due to the moderate climate and high, ever-increasing cost of living in Victoria, the city has seen a growing homeless population. In 2005, for example, it was estimated that there were 700 homeless persons. Today, the number is thought to be closer to 2,000. About half of these persons are First Nations, and the vast majority does not receive government financial assistance.
A 2007 study, conducted by the city’s Mayor’s task force on ‘Breaking the Cycle of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Homelessness’, estimated the number of homeless persons at 1,500 in the Greater Victoria area. Of this population, at least 650, or a little over 43 percent, live with substance abuse problems. Most commonly used are alcohol, injection drugs heroin and cocaine, and smoked drugs crack-cocaine and crystal meth.
The task force also estimated that there are somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 intravenous drug users in the Greater Victoria area. The vast majority of them are young, 75 percent are male, and 20 percent First Nations. Public injection is common, with 30 percent naming the street as the most common location of their drug use.
According to the Center for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC), the Lower Mainland region of BC, where Victoria is located, has a higher incident rate of drug-related deaths than other areas of the province. The Northern-Interior, on the other hand, has a higher incident rate of alcohol-related deaths. As well, Victorian drug users are significantly more likely to have used cocaine than other cities studied.
Province-wide statistics from CARBC have shown that the most widely used category of illicit drugs is what is known as ‘rave or party drugs’. Most popular is alcohol, tobacco, ecstasy, mushrooms, and marijuana. Those surveyed reported, almost universally, having used these drugs in their lifetime. Approximately two-thirds reported used in the 12 months preceding the survey. However, cocaine, ketamine, and GHB continue to be used extensively, and crack has shown gains in popularity in recent years.
At Sobriety Home, we keep up-to-date on all the latest drug use and addiction research so that we can offer the best treatment. New research allows a better understanding of alcohol and drug addiction, resulting in better counseling, treatment, and aftercare, and, ultimately, a more successful recovery process.