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Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use among Nova Scotia adolescents: implications for prevention and harm reduction.

OBJECTIVE: To characterize adolescent drug use in terms of a risk continuum and to explore the rationale for harm reduction as a potential approach for school-based drug prevention. DESIGN: Self-reported surveys, in 1991 and 1996, of adolescent students concerning their use of drugs, especially alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, and the harmful consequences of such use. SETTING: Nova Scotia. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 3452 (in 1991) and 3790 (in 1996) junior and high school students in randomly selected classes in the public school system. OUTCOME MEASURES: Prevalence of drug use and patterns of multiple drug use and of alcohol- and drug-related problems; independent risk factors for multiple drug use. The risk continuum for the response to alcohol problems was used as a policy framework. RESULTS: The prevalence of cigarette smoking and the use of hallucinogens and stimulants was markedly higher in 1996 than in 1991. Over one-fifth (21.9%) of the students reported multiple drug use of alcohol and tobacco and cannabis in the 12 months before the 1996 survey. The 3 main subgroups--nonusers, users of alcohol only and users of multiple drugs--had distinct patterns of use, numbers of problems and risk factors. In all, 27.1% of the students had experienced at least 1 alcohol-related problem and 6% had experienced at least 1 drug-related problem in the 12 months before the 1996 survey. CONCLUSION: There is a need for integrated school- and community-based drug prevention programs, with goals, strategies and outcome measures capturing the full spectrum of patterns of use and levels of risk among subgroups of the adolescent student population.[1]

References

  1. Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use among Nova Scotia adolescents: implications for prevention and harm reduction. Poulin, C., Elliott, D. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne. (1997) [Pubmed]
 
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