Substance use is up, but Montreal health officials say people aren't seeking help

Drinking wine (halfbottle /

It’s no secret that the coronavirus has affected more than just our physical health. But despite reports of increased substance abuse and deteriorating mental health among Quebecers, public health officials say people haven’t been getting the assistance they need.

“Being isolated is affecting everyone,” President and CEO of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Ile-de-Montreal Sonia Belanger told reporters on Wednesday.

“We have to acknowledge that it is normal to undergo some level of stress.”

The same day, Montreal Public Health released survey results that found stark increases in substance use during the pandemic.


One in three people say they’ve increased their alcohol consumption. The share of people who say they drink daily has increased significantly, from 11 per cent before the pandemic to a current level of 27 per cent.

Nearly 40 per cent reported increasing their cannabis intake, and more people have begun using marijuana daily.

And 40 per cent of smokers say they’ve increased their intake, too.

POINT SANTÉ DES MONTRÉALAIS | C'est normal de vivre du #stress et de l'#anxiété. La #consommation (alcool, drogues, tabac) peut sembler être un manière de gérer nos émotions. Il existe des stratégies plus positives et plus efficaces à long terme :

— Dre Mylène Drouin, directrice santé publique Mtl (@Santepub_Mtl) November 11, 2020


“We know these are ways to cope,” said Public Health Director Mylene Drouin.

Montreal public health representatives told reporters the demand for mental health resources has not increased, despite suggestions there is a greater need among residents.

As officials warned the public of the “collateral” damage to the mental health of Montrealers under lockdown, the message from Belanger was clear: “We must be really careful and check with ourselves and our family.”

Quebecers can seek mental health assistance through the Info-Social line 811 and through a variety of other services on the Quebec public health website.


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