The use of psychoactive substances (alcohol, cannabis, other drugs) is an issue that has been aggravated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Canada, during April 2020 and March 2021, 17 deaths per day were associated with fatal overdoses, an 88% increase compared to the same period before to the pandemic1. 87% of these deaths were believed to be related to opioid intoxication involving fentanyl1.
100 times more powerful than morphine, fentanyl is a powerful analgesic that can cause overdose and be fatal, even in small amounts2. In addition to its lethal power, it is difficult to detect by sight, smell or taste, putting individuals who use opioids at risk2. Fentanyl is sometimes unknowingly mixed with other substances such as cocaine or heroin2. This dangerous cocktail has been the source of recent overdoses among young teenagers in Montreal who unknowingly purchased Xanax pills containing fentanyl3. In 2018, young people under the age of 18 accounted for half of the overdose cases reported in Estrie, according to an epidemiological survey by the Direction de la santé publique de l’Estrie4.
Wanting to explore new sensations, do as their friends, cope with stress or overcome difficult times, research in Quebec suggests that the initiation of substance use often begins in adolescence (11-16 years old)5. Substance abuse or chronic use of psychoactive substances during adolescence can lead to memory deficits, decreased motivation, school dropout and increased risk of psychosis, depression and anxiety6.
Knowing that social norms, attitudes and beliefs surrounding drugs are predictive variables of drug use among youth6, it is important to be aware of them in order to use them as levers of intervention.
If you are a caregiver, teacher or a parent that would like to learn more about this topic, we invite you to register for our webinar La consommation de substances psychoactives chez nos ados* which will take place January 12th at 9:30 a.m. A panel of expert researchers in the field will provide an overview of substance use among youth, discuss risk and protective factors, and suggest appropriate interventions.
*The panel will be held in French only.
1Agence de la santé publique du Canada. (Septembre, 2021). Décès apparemment liés à une intoxication aux opioïdes et aux stimulants : Surveillance des méfaits associés aux opioïdes et aux stimulants au Canada. Publication (no 210193). https://health-infobase.canada.ca/src/doc/SRHD/MiseajourDecesSep2021.pdf
2Camh. (2021). Le fentanyl de rue. https://www.camh.ca/fr/info-sante/index-sur-la-sante-mentale-et-la-dependance/le-fentanyl-de-rue
3Allard, E. (2021, 4 septembre). Plusieurs intoxications au Xanax dans des écoles de Montréal. Radio-Canada. https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1821664/montreal-vendeur-drogue-ecoles-secondaires
4Radio-Canada. (2018). La moitié des cas de surdose touche les moins de 18 ans en Estrie. https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1117239/la-moitie-des-cas-de-surdose-touche-les-moins-de-18-ans-en-estrie
5Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l’Estrie – Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke. (2020). Prévenir la consommation de substances psychoactives chez les élèves du secondaire en Estrie. https://www.santeestrie.qc.ca/clients/SanteEstrie/Professionnels/UETMISSS/2020/ETMISSS-SPA.pdf
6Institut national de santé publique du Québec. (Juillet, 2010). L’usage de substances psychoactives chez les jeunes Québécois : Conséquences et facteurs associés. https://www.inspq.qc.ca/pdf/publications/1102_UsageSubsPsychoativesJeunes.pdf