Young adults more likely to smoke cannabis than drink before driving, survey shows

Most adults are drinking responsibly, and fewer are smoking or using illicit substances – but several areas of concern were found in the 2011 CAMH Monitor survey of Ontario substance use trends, released today by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

"More are reporting that they drive within an hour of using cannabis - even more than those who report drinking and driving," says Dr. Robert Mann, CAMH Senior Scientist and lead researcher. "Yet the risks of doing so are significant." Nine per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds report driving after cannabis use, versus six per cent in this age range who report drinking two or more drinks and driving.

The 2011 CAMH Monitor, which included 3,039 adults aged 18 or older from across Ontario, is the longest ongoing survey of adult in .

are also aging, the survey found. Those aged 50 or older now account for 16 per cent of all adult users of cannabis, which is five times higher than in 1977.

Alcohol Use Most Ontario adults report in the past year (81 per cent), but the majority does not drink excessively. Alcohol use is a concern when there are harmful drinking patterns, which occur in certain groups.

"Women are drinking more than in the past," says Dr. Mann. "Several key drinking indicators show an increase among women." Six per cent of women reported a pattern of drinking daily in 2011, compared to three percent in 1998. About eight per cent of women were drinking in ways that were hazardous or harmful, up from five per cent in 1998.

" also remains high, particularly among 18- to 29-year olds," notes Dr. Mann. "Overall, nine per cent of Ontario drinkers consume five or more drinks at one time each week, which represents 691,700 people." The survey also showed that the average number of drinks consumed weekly has increased, as has the number of drinkers overall who report daily .

Non- Opioid Use There was some good news, with the reduction in non-medical use of prescription opioids, which has been a concern in recent years. Use dropped by half between 2010 and 2011, down to four per cent in 2011.

This decline may be the result of Ontario's Narcotics Strategy as well as other policy measures to reduce the non-medical use of these powerful, addictive drugs, Dr. Mann suggests.

Mental Health One in seven Ontario adults (17 per cent) report elevated psychological distress, with rates highest among those aged 18 to 29. "This type of distress can reduce people's ability to function effectively socially and emotionally," says Dr. Mann.

Seven per cent of reported using an anxiety medication, and seven per cent took a depression medication. These medications were most likely to be used by those aged 40 to 49, and in the case of antidepressants, by women in this age range.

Smoking Smoking rates have been declining steadily for years in Ontario. Currently 15 per cent, or 1.4 million Ontarians, say they are smokers. However, this rate may be leveling off, says Dr. Mann. "The 15 per cent remains three times higher than the Cancer Care Ontario target of five per cent."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Marijuana use on the rise among Ontario adults

Apr 14, 2008

While this CAMH Monitor eReport reveals some promising substance use trends among Ontario adults, its revelation of a substantial increase in cannabis use raises a significant public health flag.

No need for reduced alcohol consumption in later life

Dec 18, 2007

Provided they stick to the same guidelines about alcohol consumption as younger adults, regular moderate drinking poses no additional risks to the over 65s, and may even bring health benefits, according to two studies from ...

Recommended for you

Meth mouth menace

Apr 21, 2014

Something was up in Idaho. While visiting a friend in Athol, a small town north of Coeur d'Alene, Jennifer Towers, director of research affairs at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, noticed ...

More teens abstaining from alcohol

Apr 10, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—A broad change in drinking behaviour has occurred among Australian adolescents in the last decade. The percentage of Australians aged 14-17 who do not drink alcohol has increased from ...

User comments