Prevalence of Cannabis Use Among Young People in Belgium
"The prevalence found for cannabis use in the 2011-2012 VAD School Survey confirm the trend found in previous Belgian studies (Godin et al., 2011; Kinable, 2011; Lambrecht and Andries, 2013; Lombaert, 2011; Melis, 2013). The study shows that about one fifth (20.9%) of the 15-16 year old and one third (36.6%) of the oldest school students (17-18y) used cannabis at least once in their lives. About one fifth (21.1%) of the oldest age group also used cannabis during the last 12 months prior to the survey. Both the lifetime and the last year prevalence of the oldest students were about 10 times higher compared to those found in the youngest age group (12-13y: respectively 4.4% and 2.4%). There is a stabilisation of regular use to around 3% since the 2005-06 survey (see Figure 2.1). 'Regular use' was defined as use of cannabis 'once a week', 'more times a week' or 'daily'. The prevalence of regular cannabis use was 2.6% for all students (12-18 years of age) with 1.2% of the girls and 3.9% for the boys. Of the 15-16 year old students, 3.1% used cannabis on a regular basis compared to 5.4% of the oldest age group. A small but not trivial group of 12-14 year old students (0.7%) reported the regular use of cannabis.
"The mean age at which school students used cannabis for the first time was 15.4 years. Higher prevalence of ever, last year and regular cannabis use were found in students following technical or vocational educational programmes compared to students of general programmes. The most frequently reported reasons to use cannabis were “sociability”, “relaxation”, and “curiosity”. Important reasons not to use cannabis were: “they don’t need it”, “cannabis is dangerous”, “it’s unhealthy” (Melis, 2013).