Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Navigate Up

Cigarette Smoking and Drug Use Among Ontario Youth Continue To Decline, But Risky Behaviours Remain: OSDUS 2005

Cigarette Smoking and Drug Use Among Ontario Youth Continue To Decline, But Risky Behaviours Remain: OSDUS 2005

2005 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey results released today
For Immediate Release: November 23, 2005 (Toronto) - For the first time in over a decade, the use of both legal and illegal drugs among Ontario students from Grades 7-12 has declined significantly, and fewer Ontario students are using alcohol, tobacco and cannabis at an early age.  However, binge drinking, frequent cannabis use and risky behaviour related to alcohol consumption and other drug use by youth is not going away. 
According to the results of the 2005 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey (OSDUS) released by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) today, the prevalence of student smoking is at its lowest rate since 1977 (14%). The use of illicit drugs has declined since 2003 with 71% of students reporting that they had not used any illicit drug during the past year. Although the use of cannabis did not decline between 2003 and 2005, the use of many drugs, such as hallucinogens, methamphetamine and heroin, is down. Another positive finding is that only 2% of 7th graders in 2005 smoked cigarettes by grade 4, compared to 16% in 1981, and 7% of this group used alcohol by grade 4, compared to 17% in 1981.
The percentage overall who consume alcohol has decreased as well, from 66% to 62%, but drinking habits remain a problem. Twenty-three per cent of students report binge drinking at least once during the month before the survey.  In 2005, 16% of students reported drinking at a hazardous level, the same percentage that report symptoms of a drug use problem. 
Fourteen per cent of students who are licensed drivers continue to drink and drive, while even more reported driving within one hour of smoking cannabis (20%).  Over one-quarter (29%) of all students report being a passenger with a driver who had been drinking, and 22% with a driver who had been using drugs.
"This is worrisome," says principle investigator Dr. Edward Adlaf, Research Scientist at CAMH and Associate Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences and Psychiatry, University of Toronto, who conducted the study with Research Analyst Angela Paglia-Boak.  "Although the rate of drinking and driving has not increased over the last survey, it still remains high, and translates into a large number of students-- approximately 36,000 Ontario teens--who are putting themselves and other motorists at risk of injury. The numbers are even higher when we look at cannabis use and driving; approximately 53,000 teens engaged in this kind of risky behaviour."
Although students continue to take part in risky behaviour related to alcohol consumption, the fact that fewer students are using alcohol, tobacco and cannabis at an early age is very encouraging.  
"Our efforts aimed at preventing and reducing harms associated with alcohol and other drug use appear to be paying off. Comprehensive strategies - including policies, accurate objective information, skill-building programs, supportive environments as well as early intervention and treatment options - can all help to change young people's attitudes towards drug use and promote more healthy behaviours" said Andrea Stevens-Lavigne, Director, Health Promotion and Knowledge Exchange Programs, CAMH.
Other Survey highlights include:
26.5% of students used cannabis in the past year. Use increases with each grade, from 3% among 7th-graders to 46% among 12th-graders
Approximately 12% of cannabis users (3% of all students, about 33,000 students provincially) used cannabis daily during the 4 weeks before the survey
In 2005, less than 1% of students indicated that they received either alcohol and/or drug treatment in the past year.  This estimate represents about 6,400 Ontario students in grades 7 to 12
One-third of students report that someone tried to sell them drugs at least once during the past year
About one-in-five (17%) students report getting drunk or high at school at least once during the past year, and one-in-four (23%) were sold, given or offered a drug at school
Approximately 6% (62,000 Ontario students) report both hazardous drinking and elevated psychological distress
The first Canadian estimate for OxyContin use among students found that about 1% of students report use during the past year.
CAMH's Ontario Student Drug Use Survey is the longest running school survey of adolescents in Canada. In the spring of 2005, 7,726 students in grades 7 to 12 participated in the survey administered by the Institute for Social Research, York University.  This report describes drug use in 2005 and changes since 1977.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is a Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization Collaborating Centre and a teaching hospital fully affiliated with the University of Toronto. 
-30-
For more information or to schedule interviews with survey investigators, please contact Michael Torres, media relations CAMH, at (416) 595-6015.
2005 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey: Highlights
2005 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey: Backgrounder​
CAMH Switchboard 416-535-8501
CAMH General Information Toronto: 416-595-6111 Toll Free: 1-800-463-6273
Connex Ontario Help Lines
Queen St.
1001 Queen St. W
Toronto, ON
M6J 1H4
Russell St.
33 Russell St.
Toronto, ON
M5S 2S1
College St.
250 College St.
Toronto, ON
M5T 1R8
Nine offices across Ontario