About 65 young people in Canada per day land in hospital because of harm caused by cannabis, alcohol, opioids and other substances, according to a new report.
Clinicians and a former user say the findings from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) highlight the desperate need for more community supports to help those with mental health concerns.
The institute released the report, titled “Hospital stays for harm caused by substance use among youth age 10 to 24,” on Thursday. The figures present a snapshot of the hospital stays in those age groups in 2017-2018, before the legalization of cannabis.
Last year, more than 23,500 youth were hospitalized for harm from substance use, the report says. In comparison, about 8,000 were hospitalized for illnesses related to the appendix.
The findings highlight the need to focus attention on youth who experience harm caused by substance use and have mental health conditions occurring at the same time, as well as those who live in lower-income or rural and remote areas, the report’s authors said.
Cannabis accounted for nearly 40 per cent of those hospital stays among youth, followed by alcohol-related hospitalizations at about 26 per cent.
Dr. Joanna Henderson, a psychologist and senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, says the report shows perspectives on substance abuse need to expand, especially when nearly 70 per cent of the hospitalizations for harm caused by substance use involve mental health conditions, as well.
That’s nearly double the proportion among those aged 25 and older.
“We need adequate services in the hospital but we also need to be thinking about how are we intervening sooner,” said Henderson, who was not involved in the research.
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