Substance use classes and symptoms of anxiety and depression among Canadian secondary school students Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Introduction

    Few studies have assessed patterns of substance use among Canadian adolescents. This cross-sectional study examined substance use classes among Canadian secondary school students and associations with anxiety and depression.


    This study used data from Year 6 (2017/18) of the COMPASS study. Students (n = 51 767) reported their substance use (alcohol, cannabis, cigarette and e-cigarette use) and anxiety and depression symptoms. We employed latent class analysis to identify substance use classes and multinomial logistic regression to examine how anxiety and depression were associated with class membership.


    Overall, 40% of students indicated having anxiety and/or depression (50% in females; 29% in males) and 60% of students reported substance use (60% in females; 61% in males). We identified three substance use classes: poly-use, dual use, and non-use. Females with both anxiety and depression had the highest odds of being in the poly-use class compared to the non-use class (odds ratio [OR] = 4.09; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.59–4.65) followed by females with depression only (OR = 2.65; 95% CI: 2.31–3.04) and males with both anxiety and depression (OR = 2.48; 95% CI: 2.19–2.80). Symptomatology was also associated with belonging to the dual use class except among males with anxiety only (OR = 1.13; 95% CI: 0.94–1.37).


    Canadian secondary school students are engaging in dual and poly-substance use, and anxiety and depression were associated with such use. Females had a higher prevalence of anxiety and depression and should be a priority population for mental health programming.


  • Williams, Gillian C
  • Patte, Karen A
  • Ferro, Mark
  • Leatherdale, Scott T

publication date

  • May 2021