Winnipeg paramedics say alcohol makes up majority of substance abuse cases

Winnipeg’s paramedics get thousands of substance-related calls each year and most of them are linked to booze.

According to data from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services, around 6,000 to 8,000 calls related to substance use come in annually.

From 2016 to 2019, roughly 75 per cent of the calls involved drinking. That’s around 23,000 calls in the span of three years.

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During the same time, crystal meth landed at a distant second, taking up an average 12 per cent the substance use call tally — just under 4,000 complaints.

After the pandemic struck, alcohol-related calls saw a significant drop but still made up the bulk.

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From 2020 to 2022, alcohol accounted for half of substance-related calls on average, with a total of 12,730 incidents.

Meanwhile, opioid use skyrocketed in 2020 and beyond, accounting for roughly one-fifth of substance-related calls in recent years with around 4,800 reports.

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Crystal meth has also made up 20 per cent of calls since the spread of COVID-19 began, but just last year opioids pulled in more complaints, taking over the distant second-place spot behind alcohol use for the first time in years.

Const. Stephane Fontaine of the Winnipeg Police Service told 680 CJOB alcohol consumption has been a stubborn problem for a very long time.

“Alcohol remains the number one abused drug across Canada and throughout North America.”

Fontaine said alcohol and other substances are often precursors to other crimes and hopes to see consumption go down as a result.

His advice is to ease up on drinking and not overdo it.

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“If people do decide to limit themselves to actually stopping after two drinks, then I will be happy about that because (you) definitely won’t be blowing over the statutory limits.

“Depending on your tolerance, you may start to feel the effects, but they will be pretty minimal at that point. And if you only limit yourself to two drinks over an evening, then that’s definitely a safe consumption.”

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg residents respond to alcohol consumption guidelines'

Winnipeg residents respond to alcohol consumption guidelines

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