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Students in Ontario Are Using Drugs Less—Except Fentanyl

Apparently opioids are more popular than cigarettes in Ontario high schools.

Allison Tierney

Allison Tierney

Image via Wikimedia Commons

A survey that asked 11,435 Ontario students about personal drug use has turned up some strange results. Apparently, substance use is down overall for grade 7 to 12 students in the province. But, for the first time ever, the survey asked about illicit fentanyl use—and one percent of respondents in high school reported taking it within the last 12 months.

When taking into account that the survey is supposed to be representative of 917,000 students across the province, that could mean thousands students in Ontario have taken fentanyl. Eleven percent of students in grades 7 to 12 reported taking opioids in general recreationally.

Image via CAMH OSDUHS

Recently released data also showed that Ontario’s opioid overdose death rate spiked 68 percent this year; 336 people reportedly died from opioid ODs in the province between May and July.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) conducts the survey that asks Ontario students about their substance every other year. This year, it listed fentanyl use among students as an “emerging issue.”

Drinking and smoking cigarettes, however, are increasingly less popular with students in Ontario. Seven percent of students reported smoking tobacco cigarettes in the last year; 43 percent reported drinking in the last year. Though hacking darts is becoming less popular, e-cigs are a bit more favourable among students: 11 percent reported vaping.

This graph shows trends in Ontario students' substance use over the years. Image via CAMH OSDUHS

Data obtained for the survey was self-reported via anonymous questionnaires in classrooms across the province.

So what else are kids taking these days, besides, apparently, opioids? Use of over-the-counter cold/cough medicine is up, with nine percent of students reporting use. And as for cannabis, which is set to be legal and regulated in Canada by July, 19 percent of students reported using it in the last year.