Teen drug use decreasing but thousands have used fentanyl
An OPP officer displays bags containing fentanyl as Ontario Provincial Police host a news conference in Vaughan, Ont., on February 23, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, December 14, 2017 6:46AM EST
A biennial survey of Grade 7 to 12 students suggests Ontario adolescents are drinking, smoking and using cannabis and other recreational drugs at the lowest rates since the late 1970s.
Robert Mann, a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health senior scientist and study co-author, says the declines are a positive sign that young people are getting the public health messaging about the harms of such substances.
But the 2017 survey also says one per cent of respondents in Grades 9 to 12 reported having taken illicit fentanyl in the previous year - a figure equivalent to about 5,800 students across the province.
Mann says it's a small portion, but the youths are taking quite an extreme risk since a very small amount can result in overdose.
He notes that 900 Ontarians died from drug overdoses last year, with a "substantial portion" related to fentanyl.