Canada: Thousands of Youth Hospitalized Due to Alcohol, Other Drugs
A staggering number of youth are hospitalised in Canada due to harm caused by alcohol and other drugs.
According to a new report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI),
- More than 23,500 young people were hospitalized for harm from substance use.
- About 65 young people in Canada per day are admitted to hospital because of harm caused by cannabis, alcohol, opioids and other substances.
- Cannabis accounted for nearly 40% of the hospital stays among youth.
- Alcohol accounted for about 26% of the hospitalizations.
- About 17% of the youth were hospitalized more than once in the same fiscal year.
- Nearly 70% of the hospitalizations for harm caused by substance use involve mental health conditions, as well.
The report is titled “Hospital stays for harm caused by substance use among youth age 10 to 24.” The figures present a snapshot of the hospital stays in those age groups in 2017-2018, before the legalization of cannabis.
More focus on youth and better services needed to tackle the problem
According to CIHI the findings show:
- The need to focus attention on youth who experience harm caused by substance use and have mental health conditions occurring at the same time.
- The need to focus attention on youth who live in lower-income rural and remote areas.
Previous research suggests young people with pre-existing mental health concerns can be at higher risk for high-risk substance use and it occurs in the other direction as well.
Speaking on the issue, Dr. Joanna Henderson, a psychologist and senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto stressed:
- Young people need places in communities that are one-stop shops to connect them with employment, education, housing and health services, including mental health and substance use.
- Importance of not only collecting consistent data across Canada regularly to find any changes, but speaking to young people about their experience with how services are delivered.
Hospitalization rates varied by province and territory. As CIHI says the hospital stays are “the tip of the iceberg when it comes to estimating harm caused by substance use,” and doesn’t include fatal overdoses in the community.