Student drug use surveys provide an essential source of information about the prevalence and frequency of substance use, associated harms, socio-demographic correlates, and identification of high-risk groups in a youth population. Surveys that ask about drug use are conducted intermittently in nine of Canada’s 10 provinces. Unfortunately, there is large variability in methodologies employed and information obtained across jurisdictions, thereby limiting opportunities for inter-regional comparisons and benchmarking.
From 2006–2009, the Student Drug Use Surveys (SDUS) Working Group—composed of representatives from nine of the 13 provinces and territories as well as national representation from the Office of Research and Surveillance in the Controlled Substances and Tobacco Directorate at Health Canada—was tasked with developing a set of core indicators of youth alcohol and drug use to be used in existing and future student drug use surveys. In essence, these indicators were survey questions asking about drug use over a comparable timeframe (e.g., within the past month, within the past 12 months) and featuring similar wording and response options. A more complete description of the development of these indicators may be found in Clark (2009).
In 2009, the SDUS Working Group agreed upon on a set of 10 questions recommended for inclusion in surveys designed to assess the prevalence and harms associated with alcohol, cannabis and other illicit drug use among a student population. The goal of the Working Group was to have existing student surveys gradually integrate these core indicators, and for new surveys to use them as a foundation to build upon. During the interim, the Working Group determined that by re-analyzing existing data, provinces with student drug use surveys could derive a set of comparable indicators to form the basis of a first cross-Canada report on student drug use. Each province that had an existing student drug use survey agreed to re-analyze its data and derive estimates. To provide national estimates, the Health Canada Controlled Substances and Tobacco Directorate agreed to do the same for data collected on alcohol and other drug use as part of the Youth Smoking Survey (YSS)
Find the report here.