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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 102, Issue 1, pp 7–12 | Cite as

Illicit Substance Use Among Canadian Youth: Trends Between 2002 and 2008

  • David HammondEmail author
  • Rashid Ahmed
  • Wiworn Sae Yang
  • Robin Brukhalter
  • Scott Leatherdale
Quantitative Research
  • 1 Downloads

Abstract

Background

Substance use among youth is associated with a range of immediate and long-term health risks. The current study sought to characterize early patterns of illicit drug use among Canadian youth.

Methods

Nationally representative surveys were conducted in 2002 (n=11,757), 2004 (n=16,705), 2006 (n=27,030), and 2008 (n=24,752) with students in grades 7 to 9 as part of Health Canada’s Youth Smoking Survey (YSS). In 2008, students in grades 10–12 were also included in the survey (n=20,673).

Results

In 2008, approximately 21% of youth in grades 7–9 reported drinking at least once a month in the past year, 26% reported previous tobacco use, 17% reported trying cannabis, while 13% reported trying another substance, including glue, non-medical use of prescription drugs, hallucinogens, and amphetamines. Compared to 2006, the number of youth in grades 7–9 who reported ever trying glue decreased significantly in 2008, whereas those who reported ever trying MDMA and non-medical use of prescription drugs had increased. Males were significantly more likely to report use for most but not all substances across survey years.

Conclusions

A considerable portion of Canadians aged 13 to 15 reported experimenting with illegal substances. The findings provide the most comprehensive national trends in substance use among young Canadians.

Key words

Drug use substance use tobacco use alcohol use cannabis use youth youth smoking survey 

Résumé

Contexte

L’usage de substances chez les jeunes est lié à un éventail de risques immédiats et à long terme pour la santé. Cette étude a pour objectif de caractériser les trajectoires précoces de consommation de drogues illicites chez les jeunes Canadiens.

Méthode

Des sondages auprès d’échantillons nationaux représentatifs ont été menés en 2002 (n=11 757), 2004 (n=16 705), 2006 (n=27 030) et 2008 (n=24 752) auprès d’élèves de la 7e à la 9e année dans le cadre de l’Enquête sur le tabagisme chez les jeunes de Santé Canada. En 2008, des élèves de la 10e à la 12e année ont été inclus dans l’enquête (n=20 673).

Résultats

En 2008, environ 21 % des jeunes de la 7e à la 9e année ont déclaré avoir bu de l’alcool au moins une fois par mois au cours de la dernière année, 26 % ont fait usage de produits du tabac, 17 % ont essayé du cannabis, tandis que 13 % ont déclaré avoir fait l’essai d’une autre substance (colle, médicaments prescrits à des fins non thérapeutiques, hallucinogènes, amphétamines). Comparativement à 2006, le nombre de jeunes de la 7e à la 9e année qui avaient déjà essayé la colle a décliné de façon significative en 2008, tandis que la consommation de médicaments prescrits à des fins non thérapeutiques a augmenté. Les garçons étaient significativement plus nombreux à déclarer avoir consommé la plupart de ces substances, mais pas toutes, au cours des années d’enquêtes.

Conclusions

Une proportion considérable de jeunes Canadiens âgés de 13 à 15 ans a déclaré avoir fait l’expérience de substances illicites. Ces résultats représentent la description la plus complète des tendances nationales en ce qui a trait à l’usage de substances chez les jeunes Canadiens.

Mots clés

consommateurs de substances à des fins non thérapeutiques tabac consommation d’alcool consommation de marijuana adolescent enquêtes de santé 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Hammond
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rashid Ahmed
    • 2
  • Wiworn Sae Yang
    • 1
  • Robin Brukhalter
    • 3
  • Scott Leatherdale
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health Studies & GerontologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of Statistics & Actuarial ScienceUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.Propel Centre for Population Health ImpactUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  4. 4.Cancer Care OntarioTorontoCanada

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