Drug Use and Offending

Q2. What are the most recent Canadian statistics on drug use?

Recent drug use surveys were done in Ontario with a sample of high school students, as well as a national study of university students was undertaken recently in Canada. Worldwide statistics also are available through the United Nations' Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP).

Ontario Student Drug Use Survey (1999)

The Ontario Survey is the longest ongoing study of youth drug use in Canada done by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. This survey has been conducted every two years since 1977. In 1999, close to 5,000 high school students participated in this survey, administered by the Institute for Social Research at York University. All students from grades 7 to 13 inclusively were surveyed about their consumption patterns of alcohol, cigarettes, and licit or illicit drugs. These data are available by gender, by grade and by region. For more information on this study, please visit http://www.camh.net/addiction/ont_study_drug_use.html .

The most common drugs used by students in this survey were cannabis, hallucinogens and stimulants. The results showed that almost one-third (29%) of students in Ontario had used cannabis in the past year: 34% of males and 25% of females. Almost one-half (48%) of grade 11 students had used cannabis in the past year compared to 4% of grade 7 students. For hallucinogens, one-in-six (16%) males and 11% of females had used this drug type in the past year, and proportions varied between 1% for grade 7 students and 25% for grade 13 students. Higher proportions of females than males had used stimulants in the past year (10% versus 6% respectively), and proportions varied between 13% of grade 13 students to 2% of grade 7 students (see Appendix B, Table 1 for more information).

Canadian Campus Survey (1998)

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health also conducted, in the fall of 1998, the Canadian Campus Survey among 7,800 university undergraduate students in 16 universities across Canada. Students were asked about their alcohol and other drug use, alcohol problems, consequences of alcohol consumption, and the context and characteristics of drinking occasions. Data are available by gender, years of study, living arrangements and region.

As with results shown above, the most common illicit drug used by university students was cannabis. Almost one-third (29%) of university students had reported using cannabis during the previous 12 months, while one-in-ten (10%) reported using illicit drugs other than cannabis during the same period. Men reported slightly higher rates of cannabis use (30% versus 28%) and of other illicit drugs (12% versus 9%) in the past twelve months compared to women. And finally, students living away on campus (36%) or off campus (31%) reported higher rates of cannabis use compared to students living with their family (25%). For more information on this survey, please visit: http://www.camh.net/press_releases/can_campus_survey_pr29300.html .

World Drug Report (2001)

The latest United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) results in their World Drug Report estimate that the extent of drug abuse in the world involves about 180 million people, which represents 3% of the global population. The majority of drug users (80%) used cannabis, followed by amphetamine-type stimulants such as methamphetamine, amphetamine and substances of the ecstasy group (16%), cocaine (8%), heroin (5%) and other opiates (2%).[2]

An analysis of prevalence estimates of specific drug types was undertaken using data collected in the late 1990s.

Cannabis Use

Of the estimated 144.1 million users of cannabis, the UNDCP estimates that the highest proportion lives in Asia (37%), followed by Africa (19%), North America (15%), Western Europe (12%), South America (10%), Eastern Europe and Oceania (3% each). These users represent almost 20% of Oceania's population aged 15 and over followed by North America (7%), Africa (6%) Western Europe (5%), South America (5%), Asia and Eastern Europe (2% each).

Amphetamine Use (methamphetamine, amphetamine and substances of the ecstasy group)

It was estimated that there were 24 million users of amphetamines in the world in the late 1990s. Of these, 58% lived in the Americas[3], 14% in Western Europe, 11% in Africa, 10% in Asia, 5% in Eastern Europe and 3% in Oceania. They represent 2.9% of Oceania's population, 0.8% in Western Europe, 0.7% in Asia, 0.5% (each) in the Americas and Africa, and 0.4% in Eastern Europe.

Of the estimated 4.5 million users of ecstasy, 51% lived in Western Europe, 27% in North America, 9% in Oceania, 7% in Eastern Europe, 4% in Asia, 2% in Africa and less than 1% in South America. These users represented 1.6% of Oceania's population aged 15 and over, 0.6% in Western Europe, 0.4% in North America, 0.1% in Eastern Europe, 0.02% in Africa, 0.01% in South America and 0.01% in Asia.

Heroin Use

Of the estimated 9.2 million heroin users in the world, 61% lived in Asia, 15% from Europe, 13% from the Americas[4], 6% in Oceania and 5% in Africa. These represent between 0.12 % and 0.22% of the population of these continents.

Cocaine Use

Of the estimated 14 million cocaine users in the world, 50% lived in North America, 22% in South America, 16% in Western Europe, 9% in Africa and 1% (each) lived in Asia, Oceania and Eastern Europe. Those users represented 2.2% of the population aged 15 and over in North America, 1.1% of the population in South America, 0.9% in Oceania, 0.7% in Western Europe, 0.3% in Africa, 0.04% in Eastern Europe and 0.01% in Asia.

This report is available at: http://www.unodc.org/global_illicit_drug_trends.html .