OTTAWA - Significant percentages of senior high school students report drinking to excess, and some admit driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana, according to a new study.
Authors of the Cross Canada Report on Student Alcohol and Drug Use, released Monday, are sounding the alarm about the prevalence of alcohol and cannabis use among students in Grades 10-12.
Published by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and the Student Drug Use Surveys Working Group, the report specifically highlights the percentages of Grade 12 students who report drinking to excess, using marijuana daily, and/or driving after either drinking or using marijuana.
Study estimates are provided as a range because data are mined from a collection of regularly occurring surveys provided by various participating provinces.
The report found that among Grade 12 students, 41 to 52 per cent report consuming five or more drinks on one occasion in the past month. The study found 12 to 20 per cent report going behind the wheel within an hour of having two or more drinks.
As for cannabis use, 15 to 27 per cent of Grade 12 students report using the drug within the past month. Some three to 10 per cent report daily or almost daily marijuana use, while 14 to 21 per cent report driving within an hour of using the drug.
"We are concerned about the health and safety of those students engaging in excessive use of alcohol and cannabis as this pattern of use is more highly associated with harms," lead report author Dr. Matthew Young said in a release.
Young said there are misconceptions that driving under the influence of cannabis doesn't affect an individual's ability to drive which is "simply not the case."
"From 2000 to 2007, 47 per cent of all drivers 19 years of age or younger who died in motor vehicle crashes had used alcohol and/or drugs," said Young, a senior research and policy analyst at the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. "Cannabis was among the most common psychoactive substances found in fatally injured drivers."
Despite concerns about the prevalence and patterns of drug and alcohol use among senior high school students, the study shows the majority of junior high students (Grades 7 to 9) don't use either.
"It is important that those in their early teen years know that the majority of their peers are not using alcohol or other drugs," said Young. "This fact may influence their decisions whether or not to start or continue using in the future."