This information is intended to help parents and other adults understand issues related to teenagers, alcohol and cannabis.

Adolescence is a time when teens actively and consciously create an identity for themselves. At this time in life, as teens work at becoming adults and discovering who they are, parents and other adults may find that teens:

  • question family rules, values and beliefs
  • experiment to satisfy their curiosity
  • want to experience things for themselves

Teens who have supportive parents, teachers, and other adults in their lives are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs, including cannabis. By talking to teens about alcohol, cannabis, and other drugs, supportive adults can lower the likelihood that a teen will develop substance use issues.

Alcohol is the drug most commonly used by teens. Cannabis is another commonly used drug. The legal age for consuming alcohol and cannabis in Ontario is 19 years.

Although most teens do not engage in risky use, there is still cause for concern. The younger someone is when they start using alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs, and the more often they use, the more likely they are to experience harms. This includes the potential for alcohol, cannabis, or other drug dependence. Since the brain continues to develop up to the age of 25, consuming alcohol and cannabis when these changes are occurring may negatively impact brain development and function. Alcohol, cannabis, or other drug use may also affect the ability to make good decisions and increase the risks of injuries and assault.

  • Under half (42.5%) of students grades 7-12 in Ontario report drinking alcohol in the last year.
  • 16% of grades 7-12 students reported getting drunk in the last month.
  • 19% of grades 7-12 students in Ontario reported having used cannabis in the last year and 2% of grades 9-12 students report cannabis dependence. [1]

References

[1] Boak, A., Hamilton, H. A., Adalf, E.M., & Mann, R. E. (2017) Drug use among Ontario students, 1977-2017: Detailed findings from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) (CAMH Research Document Series No.46). Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.