Health Canada says it is seeing more cases of opioid abuse in Canada.
The agency says it’s also seeing increased opioid use among people who have recently stopped using opioids.
The drug abuse is particularly prevalent among Indigenous people.
The National Health and Medical Research Council said it has received about 1,500 reports of opioid-related problems in 2017-18, compared with about 900 in 2016-17.
The report says many of those people were not using drugs themselves.
In some cases, the people had been prescribed opioids, which could cause addiction.
Health Canada did not give an explanation for the increase in the number of reports of addiction among Indigenous patients.
The council’s chief medical officer said the report highlights a need for more effective treatment options for Indigenous people, including the use of opioid medications.
“The fact that these people are now getting opioids and not having a choice of what to do with those drugs and whether or not to continue using them is a very sad situation for all of us,” Dr. David Brown said.
The numbers come as Health Canada is facing an increase in opioid-use among people with chronic pain.
The government is calling on Canadians to use prescription painkillers responsibly.
Last week, the government introduced a bill that would increase the maximum penalty for drug-related offences from $2,000 to $25,000.
The legislation will also provide greater penalties for those who break the law while in possession of a controlled substance.
The bill is expected to pass in the House of Commons this week.