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Alcohol is leading drug choice among Ontario students.

TORONTO -- Alcohol is the most widely used drug by Ontario students in grades 7 to 12 while the use of other illicit drugs, particularly Ecstasy, has declined since 2001 says the Centre for Addiction and Mental Use in its 2003 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey.

Although using Ecstasy has decreased for the first time since 1991 and its use perceived as a greater risk by the students, the rates of heavy or binge drinking have not declined and remain at an elevated level.

"Alcohol remains the most widely used drug across all grades and the perceived risk associated with binge drinking is low," said. Dr. Edward Adlaf, CAMH senior scientist and associate professor, Department. of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto.

In 2003 about one quarter of students surveyed reported binge drinking--five or more drinks on one occasion--during the month before the survey was taken while 19 per cent reported drinking at hazardous levels. In addition, hazardous drinking varies significantly between females and males with 21 per cent of the males reported drinking hazardously while 17 per cent of the female students reported drinking hazardously. Hazardous drinking includes adverse consequences from drinking alcohol and symptoms of dependence to alcohol.

Adalf also noted that only 1.4 per cent of all youth surveyed reported that they had received treatment for an alcohol or drug problem in the past year, while 18 per cent of the students reported that they had used drugs to feel better about themselves and used drugs alone, both of which are indicators of a drug use problem.

Three other drugs besides Ecstasy have declined in use since 2001, including cigarettes, which declined from 23.1 per cent to 19.2 per cent, LSD from 4.8 per cent to 2.9 per cent and barbiturates from 4 per cent to 2.5 per cent.

The OSDUS study spans two decades and is based on 14 surveys conducted every two years since 1977. The 2003 survey was conducted in the spring with 6,616 students in grades 7 to 12 from 126 schools participating. The survey was administered by the Institute for Social Research at York University.
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Title Annotation:Health
Publication:Community Action
Date:Jan 19, 2004
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