Healthy settings for young people in Canada – Substance use among Canadian students

Substance Use among Canadian Students

Cannabis, smoking, and alcohol have become gateways to other drugs used by young people.

Reports of ever having used cannabis rose steadily from 1990 to peak in 2002, such that half of the boys and two-fifths of the girls surveyed reported trying cannabis in 2002 (Figure 4.12). Considering that cannabis, along with smoking and alcohol use, has become a gateway drug, it is encouraging to observe that the proportion of boys in Grade 10 who report ever having tried cannabis dropped significantly in 2006. Overall results from 2006 show that just under two-fifths of boys and girls report ever having tried the drug.

Overall, 28% of Grade 9 and 10 boys and girls report using cannabis in the past 12 months with no significant gender differences. When asked about their cannabis use in the past 12 months, 8% of boys and 10% of girls report using the drug once or twice, 12% of both genders report using the drug 3 to 19 times, and 8% of boys and 6% of girls report using cannabis 20 times or more in the past 12 months (Figure 4.13).

Grade 9 and 10 students were also asked about their use of cannabis in the past 30 days (Figure 4.14). Overall, 18% of boys and 16% of girls in Grades 9 and 10 had used cannabis in the past 30 days. Six percent of boys and 7% of girls report using the drug once or twice, 8% of boys and 7% of girls report using cannabis 3 to 19 times, and 4% of boys and 2% of girls report using cannabis 20 times or more in the past 30 days.

Figure 4.13: Students who have used cannabis in the pas year
Figure 4.14: Students who have used cannabis in the past 30 days

Text Equivalent - Figure 4.14

Although there is no statistically significant difference in the use of ecstasy across the three most recent HBSC surveys (Figure 4.15), there is an increase in the use of the drug among Grade 9 girls from 2% in 1998 to 5% and Grade 10 girls from 3% in 1998 to 7% in 2006.

The use of amphetamines has declined significantly among Grade 9 boys from 9% in 1998 to 4% in 2006 and Grade 10 boys from 10% in 1998 to 4% in 2006 (Figure 4.16).

Figure 4.15: Students using ecstasy
Figure 4.16: Students using amphetamines
Figure 4.17: Students using LSD

Text Equivalent - Figure 4.17

While the use of LSD peaked in 1998 for both boys and girls, its use dropped significantly in 2006 for both genders. On average, 2% of students in Grades 9 and 10 report using the drug (Figure 4.17).

Seven percent of students in Grade 9 and 9% of students in Grade 10 report using magic mushrooms, a drug that was addressed by the HBSC study for the first time in the 2006 survey (Figure 4.18).

The use of Ritalin to get high has decreased for boys in Grades 9 and 10 by 5% since 2002 (Figure 4.19), but shows a change of only 1% for girls. Fewer than 5% of boys and girls in either grade report using the drug in 2006.

Figures 4.18 and 4.19: Students using magic mushrooms and Ritalin to get high

Text Equivalent - Figures 4.18 and 4.19

There is a downward trend, similar to that of Ritalin, in sniffing glue and solvents since 1998. In 2006, 3% of Grade 9 students and 4% of Grade 10 students report using these substances (Figure 4.20).

Although the use of other medical drugs to get stoned has decreased in Grade 9 boys and girls and Grade 10 boys since 1998, it has remained at 7% in Grade 10 girls since 2002 (Figure 4.21).

Figure 4.20: Students sniffing glue or solvents
Figure 4.21: Students using medical drugs to get stoned

Medical drugs, which may include cough suppressants and other cough and cold medications, are available over the counter and young people may not be fully aware of the dangers of using these widely-available medications.

The use of anabolic steroids has dropped in both genders since 1998 (Figure 4.22).

The use of cocaine is slightly lower for boys than in 1998, with no significant variations for girls over the last three HBSC survey cycles. Three percent of students in Grade 9 and 4% of students in Grade 10 report the use of this hard substance in 2006 (Figure 4.23).

Figure 4.22: Students using anabolic steroids
Figure 4.23: Students using cocaine
Figure 4.24: Students using heroin, opium or morphine

Text Equivalent - Figure 4.24

The use of another class of hard drugs – which includes heroin, opium, and morphine – has also dropped, especially in boys, down to 2% in Grade 9 boys from 6% in 1998 and 2002 and down to 3% in Grade 10 boys from 6% and 7% in 1998 and 2002 respectively. There is virtually no change for girls across the last three survey years (Figure 4.24).

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