Local Issues and Statistics
The Thunder Bay branch of the P.A.R.T.Y program recognizes the growing issue of youth substance use and other risk taking behaviors in the region. P.A.R.T.Y. programs’ mission is to promote injury prevention through education in our community and the surrounding area.
Thunder Bay Drug strategy published Roadmap for Change: Towards a safe and healthy community. This report indentified the prevalence of drug use in Thunder Bay youth and strategies needed in building and improving community health.
According to the 2009 Northwestern Ontario student drug use survey, Thunder Bay youth have higher incidence of substance use compared to other parts of Ontario.
- Cannabis use 32.6% compared to 25.6% provincially
- Alcohol use 64.4% compared to 58.2% provincially
- OxyContin use 3.1% compared to 1.6% provincially
- Cocaine use 4.1% compared to 2.6% provincially
- Mental health disorders have shown to be higher in both adolescent (aged 14-19) males (33% compared to 21% provincially) and females (18% compared to 12% provincially)
Party program exposes youth to the consequences associated with alcohol or drug use among other detrimental decisions affecting youth health. Some of these risks include: Addictions, suicide or self harm, mental health disorders, and overdose resulting in hospitalization. Students hear from a number of guest speakers about the cost of risk taking behaviors relevant to this issue. Guest speakers include police, paramedics, nurses, rehabilitation staff and injury survivors. The guest speakers reflect on several events related to youth substance use that have affected their lives and the ones around them.
P.A.R.T.Y programs’ upstream thinking focuses on prevention and harm reduction of high risk behavior in favour of the alternative downstream reactive approach to youth health. By focusing on preventive measures, many health complications associated with substance use can be avoided entirely. In Ontario healthcare costs amount to approximately $1.16 billion annually. Ontario healthcare costs attributed to illegal drugs are $373 million annually while alcohol related injuries account for $440million. Thunder Bays’ emergency department sees an average of 8 individuals a day due to alcohol or substance use or overdose (2830 annual visits). The healthcare cost attributed to drug and alcohol use can be reduced with early education in youth towards healthy life choices. P.A.R.T.Y program identifies the importance of educating youth early to prevent and minimize the harm that substance use presents for individuals later in life. P.A.R.T.Y program focuses on current and relevant health issues affecting youth today to build healthier communities in the region for the future.
The information above was developed in collaboration with Thunder Bay Drug strategy (Roadmap for Change: Towards a safe and healthy community) which can be accessed through: www.thunderbay.ca/…/docs/Roadmap+for+Change.pdf