TORONTO, Nov. 29, 2011 /CNW/ - Fewer Ontario teens are smoking
cigarettes than ever before -- good news that is tempered by continuing
concerns around binge drinking, and driving while under the influence
of cannabis, according to the 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health
Survey released today by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
(CAMH). The survey, which included 9,288 students across Ontario in
grades 7 to 12, is the longest running student survey in Canada.
"We were pleasantly surprised to find that students' use of most of the
substances tracked by this survey declined during the past decade, even
for those substances that historically have been used at high rates,"
said Dr. Robert Mann, CAMH Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator
on the survey. "Most notably, the proportion of students who smoke
cigarettes dropped from 12 per cent in the previous 2009 survey to 9
per cent, an all-time low since 1977. Also, the proportion using
cannabis dropped from 26 per cent to 22 per cent. However, pockets of
real concern remain. For instance, one in eight students (13 per cent)
reported symptoms of a drug use problem, and among those who drink, a
third reported drinking hazardously or harmfully as measured by a
validated screening instrument." One in six students (16 per cent)
reported being drunk or high at school a least once in the past year.
The survey found alcohol was the substance used by the largest number of
students, as 55 per cent of respondents reported drinking alcohol in
the past year. While binge drinking rates have dropped from 28 per
cent, seen a decade ago, to 22 per cent, this still represents 223,500
high school students in Ontario who are drinking five or more drinks on
one occasion at least once a month. Five per cent reported binge
drinking four or more times in the past month. "An important concern is
that about one in 10 (9 per cent) students report harmful drinking
patterns in conjunction with elevated psychological distress," Dr. Mann
Alcohol is the major contributor to injuries, trauma and death of young
people through drinking and driving and other high risk behaviours. An
estimated 175,600 students (18 per cent) reported hazardous or harmful
drinking behaviours, and one in 10 students reported injuring
themselves or someone else as a result of their drinking. These
behaviours were highest amongst students in grades 11 and 12, with boys
and girls equally likely to engage in dangerous drinking patterns.
Alcohol, drug use and driving
Seven per cent of adolescent drivers reported driving within an hour of
consuming two or more drinks containing alcohol, representing an
estimated 21,500 students. One in four students (24 per cent) reported
getting into a car with a driver who had been drinking.
"Drinking and driving has dropped by five percentage points since the
last survey. The drop has been even more significant since the late
1970s and early 1980s, when it peaked at 46 per cent," said Dr. Mann.
"This substantial drop over the long-term shows that attitudes toward
alcohol use and driving have changed."
For the first time, students were also asked whether they had ever
operated a snowmobile, boat, Sea-Doo or all terrain vehicle after
drinking alcohol, with seven per cent reporting that they had done so
at least once in the past year.
Vehicles and drug use other than alcohol is another concern. Students
were more likely to drive after consuming cannabis than alcohol. Twelve
per cent of adolescent drivers reported driving within an hour of using
cannabis and 16 per cent of students reported being a passenger in the
car of someone who had been using drugs.
Students in Toronto were below the provincial average in the use of
alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and in binge drinking behaviours. Students
in the North were above the provincial average for those same
substances. Students surveyed in the East showed no significant
difference from the provincial average in the use of any substance.
In Ontario, 8,900 students reported that they have been in a treatment
program in the past year because of their drug or alcohol use.
Measured for the first time this year, high-caffeine energy drinks were
the second-most commonly consumed substance, with 50 per cent of youth
Use of opioid pain relievers has dropped to 14 per cent from 17.8 per
cent in 2009.
CAMH's Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey is the longest running
school survey of adolescents in Canada, and one of the longest in the
world. Between October 2010 and June 2011, 9,288 students in grades
seven to 12 from 181 schools participated in the survey administered by
the Institute for Social Research at York University. Support was also
provided by hmv Canada.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the
world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental
health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy
development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people
affected by mental health and addiction issues.
CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan
American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating
SOURCE Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
For further information:
Media Contact: Michael Torres, Media Relations, CAMH; 416-595-6015