Substance Use and Misuse

A substance is anything that can be taken which changes the way you act, think or feel. Human beings use substances such as drugs, alcohol and prescription medication for many reasons. Some individuals misuse substances in order to address feelings of stress, grief, anxiety, depression or simply out of curiosity. Peoples' patterns of use and frequency vary. Some people may use a substance several times and never again, while others have a far more complex relationship with substances, and struggle to control the regularity and frequency of their use. If an individual's desire to use is connected with complex mental health or socio-emotional issues, substance use can become particularly problematic.​

Help is available

If you or your child is struggling with drug and/or alcohol use, support is available.
Find resources
Substance Misuse Video Series: Vaping
Substance Misuse Video Series: Addiction Services for York Region
Substance Misuse: Cannabis
Substance Misuse Video Series: YouthSpeak - Brendan and Brittany
Substance Misuse Video Series: YouthSpeak - Una Wright

Student Substance Use Patterns

The Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) is Canada's longest running survey monitoring student drug use, emerging drugs and other risky student behaviour. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) administers this anonymous survey every 2 years to grade 7-12 Ontario students.

Drug and Alcohol Continu​um

The Drug and Alcohol Continuum is a tool that can be used to evaluate a person's level of use and the type of intervention or support that may be needed.​​​​

Where Do You See Yourself?

Misusing drugs and alcohol can be harmful.

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Not UsingTrying it OutUsing SometimesProblem UseDependent
  • Not using drugs or alcohol
  • Using medication as prescribed
  • Trying drugs or alcohol because you are curious
  • Feeling pressure to fit in
  • You may never use again
  • Using sometimes:
  • with friends, after school/work or
  • on the weekend
  • Using substances regularly
  • Experiencing difficulty in controlling your urge to use
  • Using more to get the same effect
  • Starting to impact your life negatively
  • Using regularly and often
  • Feeling out of control
  • Feeling angry depressed, anxious
  • Feeling physically ill when you are not using
  • Always thinking about it
  • Life revolves around using