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Welcome to HC Link's blog! Our blog will provide you with useful information on healthy community topics, news, and resources, as well as information on HC Link’s events, activities, and resources. Our bloggers include HC Link staff and consultants, as well as our partnering organizations, clients, and experts in the health promotion field.

Please note: opinions in posts are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of HC Link or our funder.

We look forward to engaging in thought-provoking conversation with you!

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Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released the 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) on November 29th, 2011.  Led by Dr. Robert Mann, CAMH Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator on the survey, the OSDUHS is the longest running school survey of adolescents in Canada and one of the longest in the world.  This year, 9288 Ontario students in grades 7 – 12 participated in the OSDUHS survey.  The survey is conducted every two years to measure drug and alcohol use (including tobacco), mental and physical health, along with risk and protective factors.  Results are compared across four regions in Ontario: Toronto, Northern Ontario, Western Ontario, and Eastern Ontario.  This year, the report focused on alcohol, tobacco, illicit and non-medical use of prescription drugs.  Between 2009 and 2011, there was no observed increase in any drug use.  Between 1999 and 2011, drug use, including alcohol, binge drinking, cannabis, opioid pain relievers, cigarettes, appears to have significantly decreased, with no differences for gender and grade levels.  OSDUHS also reported on long-term trends for grade 7, 9 and 11 students only, from 1977-2011.  From this data, the present prevalence of cigarette smoking is at an all time low, with generally low level use of alcohol, binge drinking, and other drugs (similar to early 1990s).  There were reportedly fewer students using drugs and alcohol at an early age. 

Current levels of cigarette, alcohol, cannabis and prescription drugs use were also reported. 

  • Smoking: 9% of students (an estimated 88,000 students) in Ontario smoked, with 4% on a daily basis.  Smoking increased with grade level, and no differences were observed between males and females.  Northern regions reported more smoking than other regions.
  • Drinking: 55% of students (an estimated 551,400 students) reported drinking alcohol last year.  Drinking, like smoking, increased with grade level, and no differences were observed between males and females.  Similarly, students in Northern regions were more likely to drink.  For binge drinking, defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion, 22% of students (an estimated 223,500) reported having engaged in this behaviour at least once during the four week weeks prior to the survey.   
  • Cannabis: 22% of students (an estimated 221,900 students) report cannabis use in past year.  Cannabis use increased with grade level, and both females and males were equally likely to use the substance.  Students in Toronto were the least likely to use cannabis, compared to student in the North, who were most likely to use. 
  • Non-medical use of prescription drugs: about 1% of students (an estimated 12,500 of students) reported using OxyContin, and 14% (an estimated 140,100) reported using any prescription painkillers.  Use increased with grade level, but no significant gender differences were observed.  There were no significant regional variations.

The full report is available for download from CAMH http://www.camh.net/Research/Areas_of_research/Population_Life_Course_Studies/OSDUS/2011OSDUHS_Detailed_Drug_Report.pdf

Look on HC Link for news of an upcoming CAMH webinar in the New Year on the OSDUHS results, including a Q&A session with the OSDUHS research team.

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Past webinar: Moving Forward with Injury Prevention: What Does it Take?

December 7, 2011

1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST

This webinar is now over. Please visit our Slides from Events page for the slides.

This webinar will provide an understanding of injury as a Population Health problem and discuss the approaches to preventing injury.

Phil Groff is the President and CEO of SMARTRISK, a national, not-for-profit, organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives. He also serves as Director of the team at SMARTRISK responsible for the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre. Phil has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Toronto with a specialty in Human Neuropsychology and Cognition.

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Past webinar: So What's the Big Deal about Alcohol? An Introduction to Effective Community Alcohol Policy Development

 

November 29, 2011

10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. EST

This webinar is now over. Please visit our Slides from Events page for the slides.

This introductory webinar will review prevalence rates, incidence rates, harms and costs associated with alcohol in Ontario. The importance of a comprehensive, policy-led approach to community alcohol problems will be outlined. Internationally recognized alcohol policy levers will be discussed and how these relate to local community-based or public health initiatives throughout Ontario. A case study will be presented to illustrate local alcohol policy development, from committee development to policy evaluation.

Benjamin Rempel is the Program Manager of the Alcohol Policy Network, Ontario Public Health Association. Currently, his main areas of work consists of research and analysis on the effectiveness of alcohol policies in Ontario, with some of his work published in academic journals. Benjamin is currently completing a Masters in Public Health from the University of Waterloo.

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Past Webinar: So What's the Big Deal about Alcohol?

 

So What's the Big Deal about Alcohol? An Introduction to Effective Community Alcohol Policy Development

Tuesday 29 November 2011, 10:00 - 11:00

This introductory webinar will review prevalence rates, incidence rates, harms and costs associated with alcohol in Ontario. The importance of a comprehensive, policy-led approach to community alcohol problems will be outlined. Internationally recognized alcohol policy levers will be discussed and how these relate to local community-based or public health initiatives throughout Ontario. A case study will be presented to illustrate local alcohol policy development, from committee development to policy evaluation.

Benjamin Rempel is the Program Manager of the Alcohol Policy Network, Ontario Public Health Association. Currently, his main areas of work consists of research and analysis on the effectiveness of alcohol policies in Ontario, with some of his work published in academic journals. Benjamin is currently completing a Masters in Public Health from the University of Waterloo.

This event is now over. The slide deck is available for download.

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Linking for Healthy Communities Wrap-Up

 

By Andrea Bodkin

Well, we’ve just finished HC Link’s first conference, “Linking For Healthy Communities: Building from within”. It was a fabulous two day event, held at the BMO Institute for Learning, attended by more than 130 participants, staff and speakers.

Our keynote speaker was John Ott, co-author of The Power of Collective Wisdom and the trap of collective folly. Not only was John our keynote, he also worked extensively with the planning committee to shape the event as well as with the many speakers of the breakout sessions to ensure synergy in themes. John also provided many opportunities for reflection throughout the two days, which gave participants a chance to really take in and process what we were hearing.

After attending such an event, I always like to spend some time absorbing what I heard and learned. I thought I might share these thoughts with you. In fact, one of the first things that John said to us on Tuesday morning is that the most important moment of the conference is Thursday at 8 am. After the conference is all over: how will you carry the work forward? So the following is my attempt to carry what I learned forward. And yes, at time of writing it is 8:15 Thursday morning!

 

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