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Children and Youth

​​​Youth is a time of significant growth and change. It is also the period when risk-taking and substance use most commonly begins. Although youth might use substances to produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation, negative consequences such as injuries, car crashes, difficulties at school and problems with relationships and the law can result.

Youth drug prevention is a priority for CCSA

  • According to the 2011 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, youth 15 to 24 years old have the highest self-reported past-year use of illicit substances compared to other Canadians and are approximately five times more likely than adults aged 25 years and older to report harm because of drug use.

  • According to the United Nations Children’s Fund Office of Research in 2013, Canadian students aged 15 years had the highest rate of past-year cannabis use (28%) in 2009–2010 when compared to students in other developed countries.

  • Adolescents’ brains are undergoing rapid and extensive development that can be affected by drug use. Consuming drugs and alcohol during adolescence can also lead to problems in adulthood, including chronic disease, addiction and mental health disorders.

View more Canadian Trends in Drug Use among Youth. Also read the Cross-Canada Report on Student Alcohol and Drug Use, Technical Report and Report in Short.

Meeting the challenge

Evidence-informed prevention programs can help reduce the demand on an already strained treatment system. They also reduce the cost of substance abuse to society. Analysis of numerous prevention programs shows reported savings of $15–$18 for every dollar spent on drug abuse prevention.

The Canadian Standards for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention are Canada’s first national resource for substance use prevention. The Standards provide guidance on how to plan, implement and evaluate prevention efforts with schools, communities and families. CCSA has developed these Standards and a variety of resources to support their use.

Additional CCSA-led activities:


Download our resources and let us know how you’re using them.​​