Public health officials are concerned about results of a survey that suggest high levels of alcohol and cannabis use among Prince Edward Island students.
The survey was given to students in Grades 7 to 12 during the last school year. It looked at everything from exercise and eating habits, to sleep and mental health.
It showed 27 per cent of students in junior high and high school said they had drunk alcohol in the previous 30 days. Sixteen per cent said that included binge drinking, or five or more drinks at one time.
And 36 per cent said they drink by themselves, a statistic that is cause for concern, said Laura Lee Noonan, the manager of health promotion with the province's Chief Public Health Office.
"This means they're drinking alone. They're not drinking as part of their peer group — and that raises I think additional concerns for us in the province about how young people are using alcohol and for what purpose.
"So I think it requires perhaps a bit more conversation about how young people are accessing and using alcohol and the potential for addiction when people are using it all by themselves."
One worrisome finding in the survey was how many students said they had been in a vehicle driven by someone impaired by cannabis or alcohol. (Ferencik/Shutterstock)
About 13 per cent of Island students reported using cannabis, four per cent higher than the national average.
Noonan was surprised to see 12-13 per cent said they had ridden in a car with a driver who had used cannabis or alcohol.
Some positive findings too
There were some positive results in the survey when it comes to physical activity and healthy eating.
Almost 80 per cent of students seem to be meeting national guidelines for exercise, and about 72 per cent are within a healthy weight.
And on average, students are getting about eight hours of sleep each night.
On the positive side, teens seem to be getting at least eight hours of sleep a night. (CBC)
"When we look at the positive behaviours, if you like, like healthy eating and physical activity, we actually see the rates of that go down as students increase in grade level," Noonan said.
"We see the reverse of that in our negative health behaviours… Our younger students in Grade 7, 8 and 9 may not be consuming alcohol and cannabis and smoking as much, but as they get older, we see those trends increase."
The data has been given to school administrators to help create policy changes and initiatives that target specific health concerns and curb concerning trends.