POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 71 (continued...) Substance Abuse Issues Substance Abuse: A basic understanding What do we know about substance abuse? Substance abuse comprises more than illicit drugs-- as you will see, there are higher social and economic costs associated with alcohol and tobacco than with illicit substances. • Substance abuse negatively affects the safety and quality of life in our communities. • Substance abuse prevention is crime prevention. • A balanced approach to prevention and treatment must include enforcement. • Well-informed Canadians help us in making our communities safe and healthy. • Substance abusers deserve effective treatment. • Police are making a difference through partnerships with education, social services and health agencies. Police have a role to play in preventing substance abuse, as well as in communicating the reality of its causes and impacts. Substance abuse is frequently a symptom of larger social problems, and only through education can we attempt to highlight this issue. As police officers, we have a responsibility to work in co-operation with agencies who address the social and economic roots of substance abuse. The causes and effects of substance abuse are as varied and complicated as the individuals affected. It is the role of police officers to try to understand these complex circumstances in their community; always in partnership with other community services. Costs of Substance Abuse In a cost estimate study completed by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, it was revealed that substance abuse cost Canadians more than .45 billion in one single year (1992). And by most experts' calculations, that's an underestimation of the problem's cost. While dollar figures can never wholly explain the human misery that substance abuse causes and perpetuates, they help illustrate its impact in terms of the dollars that could be put towards related social services. As such, substance abuse affects more than the user. We all pay the cost in monetary as well as social terms; those close to the abuser also pay on an emotional level. The social and economic costs of substance abuse come in many forms, including hospitalizations, courts costs, productivity losses, ambulance services, social welfare, research and training, traffic accident damage, and much more. These are the substantial costs of substance abuse to highlight to the public and the media. Results from an on-going CACP-supported scientific study are expected in Fall of 2000 (see The study will highlight the impact and costs of crime attributable to substance abuse. This will likely increase the estimation of the overall costs involved with all substances, but especially those attributed to illicit drugs and alcohol. Issues and Explanations There are many heated arguments on substance abuse issues circulating in the media, in town halls and in school rooms. The following explanations are meant to clarify the CACP and RCMP positions on various substance abuse issues. a) Alcohol and Tobacco Alcohol and tobacco have more negative social and economic costs than do illicit drugs. Nationally, alcohol alone accounts for more than .5 billion per year in terms of financial costs, or 5 per Canadian, for tobacco it is .56 billion, or 6 per capita, and illicit drugs are estimated at .37 billion, or per capita.