Prevalence of Substance Use
Just over one quarter (28%) of students report no substance use (including alcohol and cigarettes) during the past year; a similar proportion (25%) report using only alcohol. The 2007 OSDUHS data also show:
- In 2007, 5% of students report smoking on a daily basis; 12% report smoking either occasionally or daily during the past year.
- Eighteen per cent of smokers may be dependent on cigarettes, as defined by smoking within 30 minutes of waking in the morning.
- In 2007, approximately 61% of all students (about 616,300 students) report drinking during the year before the survey.
- One in ten students drink at least once a week.
- Past year drinking varies by grade, increasing from 28% of 7th graders to 83% of 12th graders.
- Twenty-four per cent of students report getting drunk at least once in the past month.
- About 21% of students report using a prescription opioid pain reliever for non-medical purposes at least once in the past year.
- In 2007, about 2% report using OxyContin® during the past year for non-medical purposes.
- Among all students, 14% report using cannabis six times or more during the past year.
- About 10% of cannabis users (3% of all students) use cannabis daily.
Generally, 2007 rates of substance use (including cigarettes) are lower compared to earlier periods, especially the peak periods of drug use observed in the late 1970s and again in the late 1990s.
- Use of cigarettes and LDS were found to be at an all-time low in 2005 and stable in 2007.
- Use of any illicit drug, excluding cannabis, significantly decreased between 1999 (21%) and 2007 (12%).
- In 2007, 72% report never trying a cigarette in their lifetime – a substantial increase from even a decade ago.
- Fewer students are trying alcohol at an early age. In 2007, 31% of grade 7 students used alcohol by grade 6, compared to 42% in 2003 and 50% in 1981.
Regional & Sex Differences
- Each of the four regions surveyed (Toronto, northern Ontario, western Ontario and eastern Ontario) showed significant declines in drug use between 1999 and 2007. There were only three increases: northern Ontario - ecstasy use; eastern Ontario – use of non-medical OxyContin® and tranquillizers.
- Students in northern Ontario are more likely to use prescription opioid pain relievers (27%) compared to Toronto students (18%), and are twice as likely as Toronto students to smoke (20% versus 10%) and drink at hazardous levels (26% versus 13%).
- Females (24%) are more likely than males (18%) to use an opioid pain reliever for non-medical purposes.
- Males (18%) and females (19%) are equally likely to drink at a hazardous level.
- Females show a significant increase in hazardous drinking in 2007 (18%) compared to their level in 2005 (14%).