National Addictions Awareness Week

Each November, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse joins forces with various other Canadian organizations dealing with drug addiction in order to raise awareness of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

According to Health Canada, drug use is much higher among 15- to 24-year-olds than it is among adults over the age of 25. For example, in 2011, the rate of cannabis use was 21.6% among people between the ages of 15 and 24, compared with 6.7% among those over the age of 25 (i.e. three times higher). When it came to other drugs (e.g. cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, heroin), the rate was nearly five times higher in the younger group (4.8% vs. 1.1%). Since these rates are self-declared on a questionnaire, the actual rates may be higher, since some young people would hesitate to declare their drug use on an official document, even when assured the answers remain anonymous. 

Not all teens who experiment with drugs become addicted, of course, but even casual use can have high costs in terms of both their health and society. For example, young people who use drugs or alcohol tend to exhibit higher-risk behaviours, the most obvious being driving under the influence. 

For more information on drugs and how to help teens say no (or get clean), visit the Government of Canada’s National Anti-Drug Strategy website http://www.nationalantidrugstrategy.gc.ca/

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