AOD project | general population surveys

The general population surveys component of the BC alcohol and other drug monitoring project seeks to help identify broad patterns of low- to moderate-risk use of alcohol and other drugs.

Data is drawn from the Canadian alcohol and drug use monitoring survey (CADUMS) which was launched by Health Canada in 2008 to provide timely, reliable, and continual data on alcohol and drug use and related issues. CADUMS is conducted by telephone with a representative sample of Canadians from each province in the general population aged 15 years and older. 

2013-2015 data from the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS), a biennial general population survey of tobacco, alcohol and drug use among Canadians aged 15 years and older. The CTADS is conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of Health Canada.

Key findings from this component can be found in facts & stats/substance use in the general population in BC and Canada.



The survey is conducted on a rolling basis with monthly quotas in each jurisdiction. Each province has a quota of 1000 respondents per year, with the possibility of adding additional sample size where provincial governments contribute additional funds. In addition, provinces are given the opportunity to fund larger local samples. This survey focuses on alcohol and cannabis, while also assessing lifetime as well as past year/current prevalence rates of "other illicit substances". For alcohol, quantity and frequency are assessed, as well as indicators of frequency and intensity of heavy drinking occasions. For cannabis, current frequency is assessed. In addition, CADUMS assesses indicators of prescription drug use.

The BC AOD monitoring project team was represented on the technical advisory committee for CADUMS which facilitated efforts to create more consistent types of questions between the survey, provincial school surveys, and surveys of high-risk populations. A proposal for a discrete set of questions focusing on substance use the day before the interview was put before the national group and was accepted. This is based on the Australian experience with the "yesterday method" for assessing alcohol consumption in their National Drug Strategy Household Surveys (Stockwell et al., 2007). Population level estimates of typical drinking patterns can be made from the "yesterday method" so long as interviews are conducted on both weekends and weekdays. Clearly this method does not generate estimates of more enduring individual drinking patterns, but it can provide a clear picture of a typical daily (weekday and weekend) pattern of alcohol use and potentially other substance use.


Statistics Canada conducts CTADS on behalf of Health Canada. The target population for CTADS is all persons 15 years of age and older living in Canada, excluding residents of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut and full-time residents of institutions.

To allow provincial comparisons of approximately equal reliability, the overall sample size for the survey is divided equally across all 10 Canadian provinces. A sample of about 15,000 respondents (the approximate sample size for a full year of data) consists of 5,000 individuals aged 15–24, and 10,000 individuals aged 25 and older across Canada, with a distribution of 1500 individuals per province.

CTADS is telephone based and used, for the first time in 2015, the new survey frame for household surveys. The advantage of this new frame is the inclusion of cell phones in the frame. The person response rate for the 2015 CTADS was 79.0%. For the purposes of this report only univariate and bivariate analyses were conducted, with a t-test being used to determine if two sets of data are statistically significantly different from one another. The data presented in this report have been weighted to allow the results to be generalized to the Canadian population using the Canadian Census 2011.


  1. The BC AOD monitoring project contributed items to the survey and collaborated to ensure consistency of drug terms with our other population surveys in BC.
  2. The BC Ministry of Health contributed additional funding to ensure an over sample of BC resulting in a total of 4,000 cases from the province in 2008 and 2009 compared with 1,104 for most other provinces. The sample was 1067 in 2010, 1009 in 2011 and 2009 in 2012.
  3. Local analyses comparing BC health authorities were possible and local researchers are encouraged to make use of the data (see alcohol, cannabis, cigarettes and other drugsalcohol, cannabis, cigarettes and RX drugs, or cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and other drugs).
  4. Response rates were low, and this is an increasing problem with telephone surveys. This may underestimate the prevalence of substance use as heavy users may have been less likely to be included in the survey. This suggests the important of looking at multiple sources of information when examining trends in alcohol and drug use - hence the importance of and reason for the BC AOD monitoring project.

Data Access

CADUMS 2008-2012 Data Set

As part of Statistics Canada's data liberation initiative (DLI), direct access to the 2008-2012 CADUMS data set is now available via designated contacts for researchers at BC institutions.

Authorised users of DLI data within a member institution include:

    • Researchers
    • Educators
    • Students
    • Other staff members

DLI data may be used for:

    • Teaching
    • Academic research
    • Publishing articles and reports
    • Planning of educational services

*If your institution is not part of the DLI, contact the nearest Statistics Canada regional office to find out how you may obtain these data.

CTADS 2013-15 Data Set

For more information about the survey and tobacco results, please write to the Office of Research and Surveillance, Tobacco Control Directorate, Health Canada, Address Locator 0301A, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9, or send an e-mail request to .

For more information about the survey and the drug and alcohol results, please write to the Office of Drug Science and Surveillance, Controlled Substances Directorate, Health Canada, Address Locator 0301A, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9, or send an e-mail request to .


Tim Stockwell
Jinhui Zhao
Kate Vallance