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Teen drug use up in Toronto during '90s, study shows. (Romanow Commission).

TORONTO -- Illicit drug use by adolescents increased during the 1990s in Toronto as it did across the country, according to the 10th anniversary report by Toronto Public Health's Research Group on Drug Use.

The use of cannabis by junior high and high school students is at its highest rate-26%--since the Ontario Student Drug Use Survey started in 1974, the report Drug Use in Toronto--2000 says. The number of requests for treatment of substance abuse from individuals under age 25 increased by 30% between 1998 and 1999. The increase in the total number of requests by Toronto residents was less than one per cent.

The report also found that:

* 150 individuals died from drug-related causes in 1998 with 86 deaths classified as accidental and 57 as suicide;

* there were 38 heroin deaths in 1998, down from 40 when monitoring started in 1990 and significantly less than the peak of 67 in 1994, a change attributable to increased availability of methadone treatment and an ongoing needle exchange;

* treatment for cocaine, and especially crack, is higher in Toronto than in the rest of the province and second only to alcohol;

* crack cocaine remains the dominant street drug;

* cannabis is the illicit drug of choice among adults, with 13% of respondents reporting its use in 1998 and 10% in 1999;

* 7% of students surveyed reported using MDMA, also known as Ecstasy.

The expansion of the rave scene has been the most current development in the Toronto drug scene, the report says. It punctures two myths--that all youth who attend raves are drug users and that all raves provide a safe environment.

The severity of addiction and mental health issues among youth are of particular concern to treatment professionals, the report says.
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Publication:Community Action
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 17, 2002
Words:288
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