To report trends in rates of drunkenness, alcohol use, and drug use among Canadian adolescents.
Five national school-based surveys were carried out between 1990 and 2006 as part of the Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study (n = 4504 to 7010). Students in Grades 6, 8, and 10 were surveyed about the frequency of their drunken episodes and consumption of beer, liquor, and wine. Grade 10 students were also surveyed about their use of drugs.
Rates of drunkenness and alcohol use declined slightly from 1990 to 2006, but about one-half of Grade 10 students in 2006 had used cannabis at least once in their lifetime (up from one-third in 1990). Lifetime prevalence rates of using other drug substances were below 10%.
Timely information on alcohol and drug use among adolescents is important to health policy. Declining trends in alcohol misuse is encouraging; however, the proliferation of cannabis use indicates a need for continued surveillance and education about the risks associated with frequent cannabis use.