Ontario high school students are drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes less than ever before, but drinking and smoking other intoxicants is on the rise. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released its annual survey of drug and alcohol habits among teenagers this week. It showed several new sources of concern for parents and drug researchers. The family medicine cabinet has become a source for drugs.
Gaining in popularity is a cough-syrup laced drink, which is known by the slang terms "sizzurp," "lean" or "purple drank." "It's codeine with some Sprite and some Jolly Ranchers. I've never done it before but it's like a new thing," said Toronto-area high school student Brittney Comeau.
Liquid cough and cold medicines containing dextromethorphan are the source of the high, said Robert Mann, a CAMH senior scientist. Researchers are surprised by how quickly its populrity escalates. The CAMH survey found one-in-eight students have tried it at least once from the medicine cabinet, which is about 120,000 in total. "These new numbers give us some insight into the use of alternative and emerging drugs among young people," said Dr. Hayley Hamilton, a CAMH scientist.
Still smoking, just not tobacco. Then there are e-cigarettes. This year marks the first time in 36 years of running the survey that researchers have asked about them. Almost 100,000 Ontario students say they've smoked them.
"I see some people walking in the halls smoking them actually," said Roberta Ferrence, of the Ontario tobacco research unit. "It's an aerosol and we don't know enough yet about what's in it or what it does to you." Cigarette smoking did not show any increase this year, but it's not decreasing either. More than 33,000 Ontario teens still say they smoke every day.
Many more are occasionally smoking marijuana, creating another troubling trend. Teens mixing alcohol and energy drinks a growing problem. About 10 per cent of students with a driving licence reported driving after cannabis use. It's considered impaired driving.
Source: CBC News
The survey shows one in eight (representing 120,000 middle and high school students in Ontario) reported taking a prescription opioid pain medication and DXM containing syrups recreationally in the last year, and the majority of these students said that they got the drugs from home. About one per cent (representing 13,500 students) reported using stimulant drugs (used to treat ADHD) without a prescription. One in six high school students reported symptoms of a drug use problem; this represents 132,700 students in grades 9-12. Students in Toronto reported the nonmedical use of prescription medication at higher rates than the rest of the province.
Substance use and driving
Eighteen per cent of students reported being a passenger in a car driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol. Four per cent of students with a G-class driver’s license said they had driven a vehicle within one hour of consuming two or more drinks – this is an estimated 12,700 adolescent drivers in Ontario.
Cannabis smoking and driving levels were even higher. Despite the serious impact that smoking cannabis can have on psychomotor skills and the ability to drive safely, one in ten licensed students reported driving a car within one hour of smoking cannabis. This represents 31,500 adolescent drivers in Ontario. Fourteen per cent of students reported being a passenger in a car where the driver had been using drugs.
Alcohol use among Ontario students reached an all-time low with 50 per cent (representing 483,900 students) reporting drinking alcohol in the past year. “Though the overall decline shows promise, we see that the kids who are drinking are doing so in dangerous ways,” added Dr. Mann. “One in five (representing 193,400 students) reports binge drinking at least once in the past month and a similar percentage report blacking out on at least one occasion when drinking alcohol in the past year. Eight per cent report being injured or injuring someone else while they had been drinking.”
New in this year is the use of waterpipes and electronic cigarettes. Almost 10 per cent (representing 88,400 students) reported smoking tobacco through a waterpipe in the past year. About 15 per cent of high school students (representing 99,800 students) reported smoking electronic cigarettes in their lifetime. For the first time the survey asked students whether they had used synthetic cannabis, commonly known by street names, “K2” or “spice.” Two per cent - representing over 17,000 students - had tried the drug.