Substance abuse exacts a very significant toll in Nova Scotia. School drug education is an important element in the overall response to Nova Scotia’s substance use issues, and it is the intent of this supplement to empower teachers and students to actively contribute to this response. On the basis of thousands of studies over the past 30 years, “best practices” are now clearer than ever. It can now be said with some confidence that ongoing delivery of evidence-based drug education programs through the junior high school years can, when delivered as intended, clearly delay use of substances and quite possibly reduce associated problems through a critical period of development when substance use tends to escalate.

This supplement is based largely on the Social Influences Model - the drug education approach that has been shown to be most effective for junior high school students by research over the past 25 years. This model sees adolescent use of substances as the result of influences from peers, the media and the general culture. These social influences take the form of messages that appear to condone substance use, modeling of alcohol and other drug use by peers and media personalities, persuasive advertising appeals, and/or direct offers by peers to use substances. For the purposes of this supplement, personal influences stemming from normal adolescent development (e.g., need for independence, to experience risk) are also viewed as an important source of influence.

It is critical that drug education programming be based on the most accurate data available. To obtain the most current statistical information on student drug use, the
Technical Report of Nova Scotia Student Drug Use Survey 2002 was consulted. As in the past, and as is the case in all jurisdictions in the Western world, alcohol, cannabis and tobacco were the substances adolescent students most commonly reported using in Nova Scotia in 2002. Among students in Grades 7 to 12, about half reported consuming alcohol, more than one third reported using cannabis and almost one quarter reported cigarette use in the 12 months before the survey.

The Student Drug Use Survey will be administered at regular intervals to ensure we are staying up-to-date with new trends. We will update this website with new statistics as they become available. In November 2007, the results of a student drug use survey have been released and are updated on this site. The “What’s New” section can alert you to any changes that may occur on this site, including statistical updates. We encourage you to review that link often to ensure you are using the most up-to-date information.