MONTREAL -- As the opioid crisis rages, researchers at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) research centre have found illicit drug use in Canada has increased by 30 per cent in five years.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health and surveyed drug users in 11 of the 13 Canadian provinces and territories; Nunavut and the Northwest Territories were excluded.

It found that 171,900 people used injection drugs for non-medical purposes in 2016, up from 130,000 in 2011.

This is the first time that the number of people who inject opioids and stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, is estimated by province and territory.

Previously, global data for the country was available, as well as for some large cities like Montreal and Toronto.

Researchers say they also wanted to see if people were getting help.

“In 2016, we calculated that, for all of Canada, 66 people received medication for opioid use disorder for every 100 people who inject drugs, and that 291 needle syringes were distributed for each person who injects drugs,” said researcher Dr. Brendan Jacka.

“The data show that, overall, Canada is achieving its targets set out by the World Health Organization for harm-reduction delivery, but that success varies across the country.”

According to the researchers, a better understanding of the number of individuals at risk can help provinces and territories more appropriately respond to epidemics of opioid overdose and drug use in Canada.