Survey shows increased drug use by P.E.I. students

Ryan Ross
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Marijuana plant

A newly released report on student drug use shows the number of Island teens using cannabis and other drugs went up in 2010-2011 while alcohol and tobacco use was dropping.

Health Minister Doug Currie said the survey reinforces what the government has already heard and seen in relation to drug addiction.

“There’s nothing really surprising in the study and the survey that was done,” he said.

Health Canada was involved in the study that surveyed 2,830 Island students in grades 6-12 from 54 schools across the province to get its results, although its authors said self-reported answers are known for under or over reporting.

What it found was that 18.8 per cent of students reported using cannabis in the year covered by the survey, which was up from 17.9 per cent in 2008-2009.

When it came to heavier drugs, 11.1 per cent reported using them within the year compared to 10.7 per cent the year before.

The study pointed out what it considered a significant increase in amphetamine use with 2.7 per cent admitting to using it in 2010-2011 compared to 1.4 per cent in 2008-2009.

While there was increased use of some substances, the report showed alcohol and tobacco use dropped compared to 2008-2009.

That included a 3.9 per cent decrease in alcohol use, which the report said was a significant change.

The survey results came out more than a month after the province released its strategy to address addictions and mental health issues, which included $1.2 million in new initiatives such as appointing Dr. Rhonda Matters as the new chief mental health and addictions officer.

The province used to pay for a drug use study from Dalhousie University, but stopped as a way to save money.

But with the increased efforts underway to address addictions issues in P.E.I., Currie was asked about the possibility of commissioning studies other than the student survey.

Currie said Matters’s work is well underway and he didn’t think the government needed any more studies or data.

“I think that we’ve done an extensive job on identifying the issue,” he said.

Currie also said the survey provided good information Matters can use as she moves forward with her work.

“It will be a very positive tool,” he said.

Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward said he wasn’t surprised at all by the survey and although it was done anonymously, he wondered how many students would admit to using prescription drugs.

“That number is still very telling about what’s going on in our school system with our youth these days and the high incident rate of opiate use,” he said.

Aylward said he still doesn’t think the government realizes youth drug use is as serious a problem as it is in P.E.I.

“We know there’s a problem. What we need to do is see action from this government,” he said.

Data from the 2012-2013 school year will be available this summer.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Organizations: Health Canada, Dalhousie University

Geographic location: P.E.I., Iceland

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Recent comments

  • PARENT
    December 21, 2013 - 08:18

    Remember we / most of PEI is very out of the way and the students have nothing to do but get in trouble . Don't just look in high school , go to GRADE 7 . They start with their parents liquor , then they open the medicine cabinets . They have a party at 12 years of age . Parents with money sometimes just look the other way , my children would never do that. In another province , we were members of a group called TUFF LOVE . I have been through it all, a lot of help is needed .But first you have to say yes there is a problem / then say this is were we get the help .We also became volunteers members of A DRUG TASK FORCE , educating people what to look for signs that you children were using drugs of all types and what they looked like . I pray that all parents who know there is a problem, try to help their children no matter their age, 12 or 35 . Also we do not have to put our leaders in that think any drug is OK.

  • don
    December 20, 2013 - 11:04

    why are you trying to stop the kids from drugs? you have the leader of the liberals saying he uses drugs, then you have the mayor in toronto doing the same. so if the adults uses them and admits to it what type of example are they setting for our kids?

    • What the heck?
      December 20, 2013 - 13:06

      Don it's that degree of ignorance that perpetuates the problems! To lump Trudeau and Ford in the same category is akin to saying . . . . ah, why am I bothering.

    • Just saying
      December 20, 2013 - 13:41

      Don, when you are able to say what you have to say in proper English we will take your opinion seriously. Prime Minister Harper has admitted to drugs and has in fact been seen on television partaking in the consumption of drugs...

  • Just saying
    December 20, 2013 - 08:19

    Pot and pill use are up, while tobacco and alcohol are down...Wow! It's almost as if the legal, well regulated drugs are being kept away from minors while the illegal, prohibited drugs are becoming more and more easier to access... Good work drug war...good work.

  • t mac
    December 20, 2013 - 07:57

    i agree 110% on trying to get rid of opiates and amphetamines off our streets and out of our schools ...Though a marijuana leaf as the main pic for this article ?? the sooner this country realizes how soft core pot is ,,the better the government will sell you alcohol that kills people daily ,and intoxicates them to the point of blacking out but thats okay ??? MARIJUANA IS A MIRACLE PLANT I DONT CONSIDER IT IN MY MIND AS A TROUBLESOME ""DRUG""

  • Three Good Questions - no answers.
    December 20, 2013 - 07:13

    How many more lives do we have to ruin before we wake up and see that our war on drugs has targeted the wrong enemy? Isn't it way past time to let go of our self-righteous prohibitionist strategies and replace them with harm-reduction strategies? Why can't we understand that the shame, blame snag, bag - nail em' an' jail em approach - has caused more problems than the damn drugs?

    • don
      December 20, 2013 - 14:00

      the government is going after the little guy. but tell me why they are NOT going after the big guy the guy that is supplying the drugs to the dealers? maybe because he has money o keep the law away it happens all over. till the government stops the big suppler and forget his money and JAIL HIM. and take every thing he has. our kids will keep getting street drugs. and one day soon the real bad drugs that has everything in it lased with poison etc. but till a member of governments family is killed because of drugs nothing will be done. and i mean all levels of government.

    • Feedin' the Beast
      December 20, 2013 - 15:51

      Legalize and control as many drugs as possible - like we do with guns. Sure, it ain't perfect, but it's a lot better than the system we have now that, by default, maintains the funding of organized crime. Then again, organized crime would lose billions, so that ain't going to happen, eh?

  • Omg
    December 20, 2013 - 04:32

    NO really .. Get off your ass and DO something about it .. There should be regular visits with a drug sniffing dog . In the parking lots as well