Alcohol abuse among Quebec teens skyrocketed during pandemic, study finds

By the age of 16, at least 40% of respondents in the study admit to drinking excessively each month in the past year.

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Alcohol abuse among Quebec teenagers has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic, but their use of cannabis and vaping products has remained stable, a new study suggests.

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Starting at age 16, at least 40 percent of the study’s respondents admitted to heavy drinking (five or more drinks in one sitting) every month in the past year.

“What we see is that a curve is created as a function of age,” said Mélissa Généreux, associate professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Sherbrooke, who has supervised the study. “For 12-13 year olds, it’s not very common. From the 13th to the 16th, it skyrockets.

“Over 16 is…50%…and not that far off 60% of young people.”

The figures come from a 10-minute online survey conducted from January 17 to February 4 with 33,000 respondents aged 12 to 25 attending 106 educational institutions across Quebec.

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According to recent polls for the province, approximately 7% of Quebec teenagers drink excessively at least once a month. However, this latest survey suggests that number is closer to 19%.

A review of responses from college and university respondents found that 46% admitted to heavy drinking, compared to 34% in a previous survey.

The study also found that respondents admitting to feelings of anxiety and depression were more likely to drink heavily, establishing what Généreux describes as a “pretty strong link” between heavy drinking and mental health. .

Vaping and cannabis use do not seem to have shared alcohol’s jump in popularity. Generous says it’s likely because the pandemic has resulted in less interaction between teens who might otherwise have introduced their friends to the use of drugs or vaping equipment.

About half of the teens who took part in the study said the pandemic had a negative effect on their mental or physical health or sense of well-being.

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