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March 24, 2005 - The Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)

Study Of Drug, Alcohol Use Reveals Some Surprising Findings

By Elaine O'Connor

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

VANCOUVER -- Marijuana users are more likely than non-users to be single, well-educated and earning a decent salary.

That's one of the findings included in a detailed analysis of data contained in the Canadian Addiction Survey.

The survey was originally released last year, but the analysis released Wednesday reveals surprising variations in drug and alcohol use according to income, education and marital status.

For example, married couples, high-school dropouts and low-income earners were the least likely to toke. More than half of never-married Canadians have smoked marijuana (57.5 per cent) at some point in their lives, compared with 41 per cent of married couples and 35 per cent of previously-married respondents.

Only about 35 per cent of non-high school graduates had smoked pot at some point, compared with 52 per cent among Canadians with some post-secondary education (the figure dropped for those with university degrees). Just 43 per cent of low-income earners had smoked cannabis, versus 55 per cent of high income earners.

Income and education are also big predictors of alcohol use in Canada. Canadians without high-school diplomas were more often abstainers and former drinkers than those with high incomes. Only 64 per cent of those with little education drank in the past year, compared with 84 per cent of post-secondary and university degree holders.

Low-income Canadians were also less likely to drink: 66 per cent had an alcoholic beverage in the past year, versus almost 89 per cent of high-income earners.

Higher education and income also equates with more nights at the bar. Thirteen per cent of high-income earners and 12 per cent of university grads drank four or more times a week, compared with under 10 per cent of high-school dropouts and six per cent of low-income earners. (When it came to number of drinks consumed in a sitting, those with low income and education tended to drink more).

The original study revealed 44.5 per cent of Canadians had tried marijuana. Almost 14 per cent of Canadians had smoked pot in the last year.

Overall, more than 11 per cent of Canadians have tried hallucinogens, 10 per cent have tried cocaine, six per cent have used speed, four per cent have used ecstacy, and less than one per cent have tried heroin and inhalants at some point in their lives.

The remainder of the data will be released in June.

The study was a joint project of Health Canada and the Canadian Executive Council on Addictions.

It surveyed 13,900 Canadians over the age of 15 by phone between December 2003 and April 2004.

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