Use of prescription, over-the-counter medications also of concern in CAMH's latest Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS)
TORONTO, Dec. 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Alcohol consumption and smoking among
Ontario students in grades 7-12 is at an all-time low; however
recreational use of over-the-counter drugs is on the rise. Prescription
drug misuse and driving after using drugs also remain elevated
according to the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey
(OSDUHS) released today by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
(CAMH). The survey of 10,272 students from across Ontario is Canada's
longest-running systematic study of alcohol and other drug use among
youth, and one of the longest-running surveys in the world.
Over-the-counter and prescription drugs
The survey shows one in eight (representing 120,000 middle and high
school students in Ontario) reported taking a prescription opioid pain
medication recreationally in the last year, and the majority of these
students said that they got the drugs from home. About one per cent
(representing 13,500 students) reported using stimulant drugs (used to
treat ADHD) without a prescription. There was an increase in the number
of students who reported using over-the-counter cough medication to
"get high," with over 94,000 students (about 10%) engaging in this
behaviour. This was the only drug to show an increase in recent years.
One in six high school students reported symptoms of a drug use
problem; this represents 132,700 students in grades 9-12.
Substance use and driving
Eighteen per cent of students reported being a passenger in a car driven
by someone who had been drinking alcohol. Four per cent of students
with a G-class driver's license said they had driven a vehicle within
one hour of consuming two or more drinks - this is an estimated 12,700
adolescent drivers in Ontario.
Cannabis smoking and driving levels were even higher. Despite the
serious impact that smoking cannabis can have on psychomotor skills and
the ability to drive safely, one in ten licensed students reported
driving a car within one hour of smoking cannabis. This represents
31,500 adolescent drivers in Ontario. Fourteen per cent of students
reported being a passenger in a car where the driver had been using
"The number of students who report using cannabis and driving has
remained the same in recent years which tells us that students do not
take the potential dangers of driving while under the influence
seriously," said Dr. Robert Mann, CAMH Senior Scientist and OSDUHS
Principal Investigator. "The public health messages around the dangers
of drinking and driving seem to have had an impact on our youth but the
same can't be said for cannabis use, which is worrisome."
Alcohol use among Ontario students reached an all-time low with 50 per
cent (representing 483,900 students) reporting drinking alcohol in the
past year. "Though the overall decline shows promise, we see that the
kids who are drinking are doing so in dangerous ways," added Dr. Mann.
"One in five (representing 193,400 students) reports binge drinking at
least once in the past month and a similar percentage report blacking
out on at least one occasion when drinking alcohol in the past year.
Eight per cent report being injured or injuring someone else while they
had been drinking."
New this year
New in this year's OSDUHS are questions on the use of waterpipes and
electronic cigarettes. Almost 10 per cent (representing 88,400
students) reported smoking tobacco through a waterpipe in the past
year. About 15 per cent of high school students (representing 99,800
students) reported smoking electronic cigarettes in their lifetime. For
the first time the survey asked students whether they had used
synthetic cannabis, commonly known by street names, "K2" or "spice."
Two per cent - representing over 17,000 students - had tried the drug.
"These new numbers give us some insight into the use of alternative and
emerging drugs among young people," said Dr. Hayley Hamilton, CAMH
Scientist and Co-Investigator on the OSDUHS. "We see that while
cannabis use among students is holding steady since our last survey at
around one quarter of students, this new synthetic form has emerged and
we will want to track its prevalence in future surveys. The same holds
for smoking - while the rate of students smoking has leveled off over
the past few years, we see that youth are still smoking cigarettes and
tobacco, but in alternate ways."
Students in Toronto and Western Ontario reported the nonmedical use of
opioid prescription pain medication at higher rates than the rest of
the province (15 per cent and 13 per cent respectively)
Students in the north were less likely to use prescription opioid pain
medication (7 per cent) but reported higher rates of hazardous drinking
than the provincial average (19 per cent and 16 per cent respectively)
Students in the east reported higher rates of hazardous drinking than
the provincial average (20 per cent and 16 per cent respectively)
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, and one of the world's
leading research centres in the field. CAMH combines clinical care,
research, education, policy development and health promotion to help
transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction
CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan
American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating
OSDUHS is Canada's longest-running systematic study of alcohol and other
drug use among youth, and one of the longest-running surveys in the
world. During the 2012-13 school year, 10,272 students from across
Ontario in grades 7 to 12 participated in the survey, administered on
behalf of CAMH by the Institute for Social Research at York University.
SOURCE: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
For further information:
please contact Michael Torres, Media Relations, CAMH at (416) 595-6015 or firstname.lastname@example.org