Canadian Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CADS)

Detailed information for 2019




Every 2 years

Record number:


The main objective of this survey is to collect information on Canadians' use of alcohol and drugs. Health Canada and other organizations will use the information to monitor changes in alcohol and drug use.

Data release - Scheduled for Spring/Summer 2020


The major objectives of the Canadian Alcohol and Drugs Survey are to: measure frequency of alcohol use, measure frequency of cannabis use, measure frequency of use of other drugs and measure potential harmful effects of alcohol, cannabis and other drugs.

Until 2017, Statistics Canada conducted the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS), which collected data on tobacco as well as alcohol and drugs. Starting with the collection of the 2019 Canadian Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CADS), content on alcohol and drugs is being collected on its own. The Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey (CTNS) is being conducted as a separate survey to collect data on tobacco and nicotine.

Reference period: Varies (past 7 days, past 30 days, past 3 months, past 12 months and during lifetime).

Collection period: June to December of the reference year


  • Health
  • Lifestyle and social conditions

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the Canadian Alcohol and Drugs Survey is all persons 15 years of age and older living in Canada with the following two exceptions:
- Residents of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut
- Full-time residents of institutions.

Instrument design

The CADS 2019 questionnaire was developed in coordination with the survey sponsor, Health Canada.

The questionnaire for CADS 2019 contains some of the same questions as the previous CTADS (2013, 2015 and 2017) questionnaires and previous iterations of the survey (CTUMS). However, many new questions have been introduced. In particular, more information is being collected on alcohol consumption, and on a wider variety of drugs and the effects of their use.

During March and July 2018, qualitative testing took place to test new and revised questionnaire content. Close to 50 cognitive interviews were conducted face-to-face with participants to determine if the content was relevant and well understood. After each round of testing, changes were made to the wording and flows based on observations of the interviews and comments received by participants.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The frame is the Dwelling Universe File (DUF). Dwellings in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut were excluded, as well as institutions.

Sampling unit
The CADS sample has a two-stage design: the sampling unit for the first stage is the dwelling, and the sampling unit for the second stage is the person.

Stratification method
The CADS frame is stratified by province and household size composition and a simple random sample of dwellings is selected independently within each province crossed by household composition.

Sampling and sub-sampling
Sufficient sample was allocated to each of the provinces or household composition so that the survey could produce provincial and national level estimates and age groups estimates as required. An initial sample of 22,000 dwellings was selected.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2019-06-10 to 2019-12-31

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Selected households receive an invitation letter in the mail. The letter explains who, from the household, is selected to participate in the survey using the age selection method. The access code in the letters gives the respondent access to the electronic questionnaire. The electronic questionnaire is offered in the two official languages: French and English. In most cases, the time required to complete the survey ranges from 15 to 30 minutes. A non-responding household may receive up to three mail reminders before they are contacted by a Statistics Canada interviewer to complete the questionnaire over the phone.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

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