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Archived - Government of Canada Tackles Drug Abuse Among Teens Through New Marketing Campaign

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New campaign encourages parents to talk with their teens about the real dangers of drug abuse

October 20, 2014 - Toronto, ON - Health Canada

Today, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, launched the Government of Canada's new marketing campaign, which equips parents with the information and tools needed to talk with their teenagers about the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse and marijuana use, on behalf of Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health.

Abuse of prescription drugs is dangerous and can lead to addiction, overdose and even death. In 2012-13, more than 80,000 Canadian kids admitted to using prescription drugs to get high.

Smoking marijuana damages teens' developing brains and is harmful to a person's overall health.

The Preventing Drug Abuse Media Campaign is part of the larger National Anti-Drug Strategy (NADS), launched in 2007 as the Government's approach to illicit drugs in Canada. In 2013, the Government reiterated its commitment to drug prevention by expanding the NADS to include prescription drug abuse.

The marketing campaign will run until December 2014, consisting of seven weeks on television and 10 weeks on Web and social media platforms. The ads illustrate the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse and marijuana use on the developing brains and bodies of teenagers.

Quick Facts

  • Economic Action Plan 2014 commits $44.9 million over five years to expand the focus of its National Anti-Drug Strategy from illicit drugs to include prescription drug abuse.
  • Prescription drug abuse is having a devastating impact on communities and youth across the country. Last year, more than 80,000 Canadian kids used prescription drugs to get high. And, according to a 2013 Ontario study, 70% of teens who abused prescription drugs reported obtaining the drug from their own homes.
  • One of every eight deaths for Ontarians aged 25 to 34 was related to opioid (pain killers) use in 2010, up from one in 25 in 1999, according to the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and St. Michael's Hospital.
  • Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug among Canadian youth, and the average age of initiation among teens is 14 according to the 2012-2013 Youth Smoking Survey.
  • Recent studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Drug Testing and Analysis show that today's marijuana is on average 300-400% stronger than it was 30 years ago.
  • Teenagers' developing brains are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of marijuana use. Regular long-term marijuana use can harm concentration, memory, the ability to think and make decisions, and IQ. Some of these effects may persist after stopping marijuana use.
  • A recent 20-year medical review published in the journal "Addiction" on the long-term health effects of marijuana confirmed that it increases the chances of mental disorders and can lower IQ.
  • According to the International Narcotics Control Board, Canada is now the second-largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids, and 28 per cent of Canadian youth between the ages of 11 and 15 reported using marijuana in 2012, according to a recent UNICEF study.


"Drug abuse has devastating impacts on Canadians, especially youth. Today, we are launching a marketing campaign, with the goal of equipping parents with the necessary tools to talk with their children and teens about the harmful effects of substance abuse. This campaign is part of our Government's ongoing commitment to address the dangers of marijuana use and prescription drug abuse among our children and youth."
Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

"We know that prescription drug abuse and marijuana use can have devastating effects on our families and communities. With the launch of this new media campaign, our Government is encouraging parents to talk with their kids about the harmful effects of marijuana use and prescription drug abuse with new resources to support these conversations."
Minister Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport

"The earlier drug use begins, the greater the likelihood of long lasting harm. We know that parents can significantly influence the lives of youth between 13-15 years of age and that is why, through this campaign, we are aiming to give parents the tools and facts they need to have the often difficult conversations with their kids about drugs."
Terence Young
Member of Parliament for Oakville

"Adolescence is a time of rapid development change, during which the brain is particularly vulnerable to the effects of drugs. Investing in multi-faceted prevention efforts helps reduce the harms of use and abuse of drugs on youth, their families and communities. It can also greatly reduce the cost of addiction on Canadian society - including the costs to our economy, as well as our health and criminal justice systems. We commend Minister Ambrose and the Government for this initiative, one that also involves parents, as they play an important role in helping to build resiliency in their children."
Rita Notarandrea
Chief Executive Officer (interim)
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

Associated Links

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Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health

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