Victoria street-involved youth who use substances

CISUR has conducted twice-annual surveys of street-involved youth aged 14-24 in Victoria who actively use substances since 2008. Additional data-collection sites for youth were added in 2012. Due to falling recruitment numbers for 2015, data collection for this particular survey was suspended in 2016. In order to provide a current snapshot based on a suitable sample size, this section of the website will show information based on data between 2010 and 2015, unless otherwise noted. For further information on the surveys, including the survey instrument used, please see the high-risk populations section of the AOD Monitoring Project site.

The information presented here is just a fraction of the data we collect. You can find more data in our data tables, or contact us directly.


demographics of street-involved youth surveyed

The average age of survey participants (2010-2015) was 19. Nearly 1/4 of respondents identified as indigenous, and only 64% identified as heterosexual, the lowest percentage of all three surveys (24% identified as bisexual, which was higher than the other two population surveyed). Nearly half (49%) were either living in a shelter or had no fixed address.

Download our poster:Alcohol and drug use among youth in street-based settings using substances

Note: Respondents had to be actively using substances at least once per month over the past six months to be eligible for the survey. These statistics are not necessarily representative of the average street-involved youth, street-involved adult, post-secondary or general populations. For more information on our high-risk surveys, please see the High Risk section of the AOD Monitoring Project.

most common substances used by street-involved youth in victoria

Tobacco, marijuana and alcohol were the most commonly used substances in the past 30 days (2010-2015), following a similar pattern to what was seen with street-involved adults who use substances. Crystal meth was a distant fourth at 41%, compared to alcohol at 78%.

substance use trends over time for street-involved youth in Victoria

Looking at trends over time, the only statistically significant trend we found in the top eight substances was a decrease in ecstasy use (p<.01) from 2012-2015 (significance tests were only conducted from 2012 onward due to changes made to recruitment sites for the survey). Use of most other substances remained relatively stable. Crack cocaine use also significantly (p<.05) decreased over that time period, having reached a high of 30% in 2013 and decreasing to 15% in 2015 (it is not pictured here, as it wasn’t within the top 10 substances reported between 2010 and 2015).

A chart of injection drug use among street-involved youth in BC

Lifetime injection-drug use among street-involved youth who used substances was around 29% (2010-2015), with heroin, crystal meth and prescription opioids such as dilaudid and morphine being the top three substances injected.

A chart of injection drug use among street-involved youth in BC

When we look at past 30-day injection-drug use among this population, we see an average of 16% of street-involved youth who use substances report injecting drugs in the past month. Although this graph shows an upward trend, it was not found to be statistically significant (2012-2015).

Download our poster:Alcohol and drug use among youth in street-based settings using substances

Note: Respondents had to be actively using substances at least once per month over the past six months to be eligible for the survey. These statistics are not necessarily representative of the average street-involved youth, street-involved adult, post-secondary or general populations. For more information on our high-risk surveys, please see the High Risk section of the AOD Monitoring Project.

overdose rates among street-involved youth in victoria

The majority of street-involved youth who used substances surveyed reported experiencing at least one type of alcohol-related (74%) and one type of other drug-related (83%) harm in the past 12 months (2010-2015). More than half (63%) had reported experiencing an overdose in their lifetime, the highest rate of self-reported overdoses of any of the three high-risk populations surveyed. Respondents reported an average of four overdoses in their lifetime, with 13% of overdoses occurring by injection.  For more details on specific types of harms experienced, see the harms related to substance use section.

harm reduction and street-involved youth in victoria

In terms of harm reduction, 89% of these youth who injected drugs had accessed clean needles in the past 30 days, and 74% of those who used crack cocaine had accessed clean crack pipes in the same time period. Over half (53%) of those who injected reported injecting with others. About 1/3 (35%) of street-involved youth who used substances said they had received overdose training, 44% of whom said that training had included the use of naloxone. The vast majority also supported or would use a supervised consumption site in Victoria.

treatment and street-involved youth in victoria

Only 9% of youth surveyed between 2012 and 2015 said they were in any form of treatment for their substance use, with the most common treatment method being counselling. 

Download our poster:Alcohol and drug use among youth in street-based settings using substances

Note: Respondents had to be actively using substances at least once per month over the past six months to be eligible for the survey. These statistics are not necessarily representative of the average street-involved youth, street-involved adult, post-secondary or general populations. For more information on our high-risk surveys, please see the High Risk section of the AOD Monitoring Project.