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November 20, 2007
For immediate release
2007 PEI Student Drug Survey Results Released
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The 2007 PEI Student Drug Survey was part of a coordinated Atlantic Canada initiative using a standardized questionnaire that was administered to students in all four Atlantic provinces. The last survey was done in 2002.
Approximately 3000 PEI students in Grades 7,9,10 and 12 were surveyed and the 2007 findings for PEI show similar rates of drug use as found in 2002. Compared to other Atlantic provinces, PEIs results were among the lowest percentages of drug use in several categories.
The results of this report provide us with valuable information as we continue to develop programs and services that help Island youth and families deal with alcohol and drug use, said Doug Currie, Minister of Health. Government also recognizes that ongoing health promotion, increased awareness of the risks of drug use, and prevention initiatives are essential in addressing the issue.
Results show that alcohol remains the drug of choice among students and the drinking rates for PEI students remain stable since 2002. The percentage of students who have reported drinking at least once in the past year ranges from 8 percent of Grade 7 students to 77 percent of Grade 12 students.
Cannabis use among Island youth was reported by about one in four students, which is similar to 2002 and lower than use in other Atlantic provinces. Rates of cannabis use ranges from 3 percent of Grade 7 students to 37 percent of Grade 12 students. About 5 percent reported using stimulants, magic mushrooms or inhalants, while less than 3 percent reported use of other illicit drugs such as LSD, cocaine, tranquillizers or anabolic steroids.
Student smoking rates continue to decrease since 2002 with the 2007 results showing that 15 percent of students smoked cigarettes in the past year.
Education Minister Gerard Greenan said the survey provides educators, health professionals and parents with useful information to help students make healthy lifestyle choices. The survey provides current and credible information on the nature and extent of drug use among youth, as well as the harmful consequences that result. It also provides us with insight into the incredible pressures that young people are under at a very crucial period of their social and academic development, he said. We will be disseminating this information widely to parents and partners through government and school websites. We will be using the information to inform us on the development of our Youth Addictions Strategy and other programs that support student learning and the development of healthy lifestyle choices.
Health Minister Doug Currie said Government is committed to providing enhanced youth addictions programming in the province. As work continues on the development of the Youth Addictions Strategy and we move toward implementation, we are looking broadly at youth addiction needs including education, prevention, assessment, intervention, treatment and rehabilitation.
The Student Drug Survey is a collaborative effort between the Department of Health, the Department of Education and Dalhousie University. This is the fourth wave of surveys in the Atlantic region. The survey highlights report is available on the PEI Department of Health website in both English and French at: www.gov.pe.ca/go/studentdrugsurvey
2007 STUDENT DRUG SURVEY REPORT
The 2007 PEI Drug Survey was part of a coordinated Atlantic Canada initiative using a standardized questionnaire that was administered in all four Atlantic provinces.
Approximately 3000 Island students in grades 7, 9, 10 and 12 were recently surveyed on drug use. Across the Island, 161 classes were randomly selected, and all students in the select classes were asked to participate in the survey. The classes represented students in both rural and urban settings in the Eastern, Western and French Language School boards.
Excluded by design are students attending private school, students who are home schooled, students absent from school on the day of the survey and students who have dropped out of school.
Drug use was defined as use in any location at least once in the year prior to the survey.
An open-ended question at the end of the survey allowed students to express their opinions and concerns regarding alcohol and other drug use.
The report provides the best estimates currently available to describe the size of drug use in the adolescent PEI student population.
This is the fourth wave of surveys in Atlantic Canada providing comparable information throughout the region.
The 2007 findings for PEI show similar rates of drug use as found in 2002. Compared to other Atlantic provinces, PEI's results were among the lowest percentages of drug use in several categories.
The trends section in report compares the 2007 PEI results to previous PEI results in 1996, 1998 and 2002 and the 2007 Atlantic Provinces survey results.
Since under-reporting is an issue, there is a possibility that the findings could be under-estimated. The survey is based on self-reports and that means that there is a potential for individual students to exaggerate or deny their drug use.
Results for 2007 show that alcohol remains the drug of choice among students and the drinking rates for PEI students remain stable since 2002. The percentage of students who have reported drinking at least once in the past year ranges from 8 percent of Grade 7 students to 77 percent of Grade 12 students.
Cannabis use among Island youth was reported by about one in four students, which is similar to 2002 and lower than use in other Atlantic provinces. Rates of cannabis use ranges from 3 percent of Grade 7 students to 37 percent of Grade 12 students.
About 5 percent of students reported using stimulants, magic mushrooms or inhalants, while less than 3 percent reported use of other illicit drugs such as LSD, cocaine, tranquillizers, or anabolic steroids.
The percentage of students who had reported cigarette smoking more than once in the past year has decreased from the 33 percent seen in 1996 and now stands at 15 percent for 2007. The overall decrease in smoking is seen at all grades.
The student drug survey results provide useful information as we continue with efforts to address the issue of drug use among Island youth. This work requires a combined effort between government, community partners, and the public.
Government is committed to providing enhanced youth addictions services and the Department of Health continues work on a comprehensive - Three Phase - youth addictions strategy.
Phase 1: Initial consultation and research on best practices; Phase 2: Expert advice and validation of the report findings through public consultations; and Phase 3: Implementation. We are currently in phase two.
Through past discussions, a draft framework document was developed. This framework will be discussed and validated with community stakeholders through public meetings and focus group sessions to be held December 17, 18, and 19.
National experts from the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Heath will help facilitate the consultations and provide information on best practices for youth addictions and substance abuse.
An advisory committee will also be established in the coming weeks for the planning and implementation of the strategy.
Government also has an interest in investigating the potential of a secure assessment model.
We recognize that there are many programming and service needs to consider and a residential facility-based service is one important component. A residential treatment facility providing 24- hour, seven-day service will be planned and implemented through 2008 and 2009.
As government moves toward implementation of enhanced youth addictions programming in the province we are looking broadly at youth addiction needs including education, prevention, assessment, intervention, treatment, and rehabilitation.