This study examines drug selling among representative samples of high school students in Ontario. It involves three approaches, (i) examining the trend in drug selling between 1983 and 1989, (ii) assessing differences between sellers and non-sellers on demographic characteristics, levels of alcohol and drug use, and problems, and (iii) drawing detailed profiles of drug seller types. Drug selling declined considerably between 1983 and 1989. Sellers were more likely to be males and to use alcohol and drugs more often than non-sellers. Sellers also had more alcohol and drug problems and engaged in more delinquent acts. Drug sellers who sold cannabis only were less frequent users of drugs, less likely to have drug problems, and were also delinquent.
In a national survey conducted in 1994, 29.3% of all respondents reported that they had used cannabis at least once, 7.3% reported using at least once during the year of the survey, and 2.0% reported using cannabis at least once a week during the year of survey. Nonusers and those with different patterns of cannabis use could be distinguished by age; gender; the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; and involvement with drug users. Frequent cannabis use at the time of the survey was associated with "heavy" drinking and drinking problems, drinking and driving, driving within 2 hours of using cannabis, and the use of other drugs, especially among young males. The association between regular cannabis use, "heavy" drinking, and other risk behaviors poses challenges to prevention and harm-reduction initiatives.
Alcohol consumption declined by about 10.5% in Quebec and 2.5% in Ontario but increased by 9.5% in Alberta in the years 1974-1983. This created a 'natural experiment' in which the effects of various changes in alcohol consumption on alcohol problems could be assessed. Declines in rates of most alcohol problems were found in Quebec and Ontario despite their different rates of decrease in consumption. However, there were declines in alcoholism rates, and deaths from liver disease and the alcohol dependency syndrome in Alberta. Some problems such as impaired driving and toxic or accidental deaths from alcohol increased in Alberta, probably because of its relatively youthful population compared to Ontario and Quebec. Changes in alcohol consumption appeared to be an unreliable indicator of how various problems are changing.
Data on Ontario per capita alcohol consumption and alcohol-related cancer mortality rates from 1963 to 1983 generally correlated positively and significantly. Correlations for the period of rising consumption (1963-1974) were similar to those observed for the total period, but during the period of stabilization and decline of alcohol consumption the magnitude of nearly all relationships decreased substantially. The overall positive and significant correlation between per capita alcohol consumption and various cancer site mortality rates may be partly due to lag effects from the period when consumption was on the rise.