How Common is Drug Use Among Youth?

Alcohol is the #1 drug used by teens.

  • 55% of Ontario students used alcohol (drank one drink or more on any occasion) during the past year.
    • This rate increases to almost 80% by the time they reach grade 12.
  • 22% of students had five or more drinks at one occasion (binge-drinking) at least once in the past month.
    • This number increases to almost 40% of students by grade 12.


The second most popular drug used by students is high-caffeine energy drinks.

  • Almost 50% of students had this drink in the past year.
  • More than a third of grade 7 students had this drink.
  • 21% of Canadian students report mixing energy drinks with alcohol.


Cannabis (marijuana, hash or hash oil) is the third most popular drug (and most common illicit drug) used by youth.

  • 22% of Ontario students say they’ve used marijuana at least once in the past year.
    • By grade 12, that increases to more than 1/3 of all students.
  • About 10% of marijuana users report symptoms of dependence on the drug.

The fourth most popular drug used by students is the non-medical use of prescription pain relievers, such as codeine, Percocet, Percodan, Demerol, or Tylenol #3

  • 14% of students had used one or more of these drugs in the past year.
  • The majority of these students (67%) report they obtained the drug from their home.
  • 14% of Ontario students report using a prescription pain killer that wasn’t prescribed for them.
  • 7% of Ontario students report using over-the-counter cough and cold medications to get high.


Cigarettes rank next. With steady declines in smoking, 8.7% of students report smoking cigarettes during the past year.

Not all students use drugs. In fact, about 62% of all students did not use any illicit substance and 33% used no drugs at all.


For additional current information on youth substance use, visit:


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