Alcohol use

two shot glasses
Research consistently shows that alcohol is the most common substance used by Canadian youth.1,2,3,4

The COMPASS School Health Profile focuses on binge drinking, which is defined as drinking five or more drinks of alcohol on a single occasion.

The number of students who report binge drinking at your school is compared to national results from the 2010-2011 Youth Smoking Survey.

Why is binge drinking a health issue?

Compared to more moderate use of alcohol, binge drinking is associated with particular risks such as:

  • alcohol poisoning
  • unplanned and unwanted sexual experiences
  • violence
  • injury
  • death.5

Youth may also be at greater risk of lasting brain damage from heavy alcohol consumption because compared to mature adults, their brains are still developing.6

In addition, youth who report binge drinking are substantially more likely to also have tried tobacco and/or marijuana. In fact, it is rare to find students who currently use tobacco, marijuana, or illicit drugs who do not also currently use alcohol.1 Binge drinking is also linked to poorer school performance.2, 3

Binge drinking is a widespread issue. The number of students who binge drink tends to increase by grade, such that by the time students are in grade 12, at least half of their class will have binged at least once.1

Is binge drinking a problem at your school? Please consult your customized School Health Profile for information on how you can address this issue.

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1Leatherdale, S. T., & Burkhalter, R. (2012). The substance use profile of Canadian youth: Exploring the prevalence of alcohol, drug and tobacco use by gender and grade. Addictive Behaviors, 37, 318-322.

2Leatherdale, S. T., Hammond, D., & Ahmed, R. (2008). Alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use patterns among youth in Canada. Cancer Causes & Control, 19, 361-369.

3Leatherdale, S. T., & Ahmed, R. (2010). Alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use among Canadian youth: Do we need more multi-substance prevention programming? Journal of Primary Prevention, 31, 99-108.

4Paglia-Boak, A., Adlaf, E. M., & Mann, R. E. (2011). Drug use among Ontario students, 1977-2011: Detailed OSDUHS findings (CAMH Research Document Series No. 32). Toronto: ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

5Miller, J. W., Naimi, T. S., Brewer, R. D., & Jones, S. E. (2007). Binge drinking and associated health risk behaviors among high school students. Pediatrics, 119(1), 76-85.

6Tapert, S. F., Caldwell, L., & Burke, C. (2004-2005). Alcohol and the adolescent brain: Human studies. Alcohol Research & Health, 28(4), 205-212.