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Date: December 15, 2005

Alcohol Nation's Favourite, and Most Dangerous, Drug

VANCOUVER —If you drink alcohol, you may be putting your health at risk. That’s according to a new report released today by the University of Victoria ’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC).

“There is no doubt that alcohol is Canada’s favourite drug,” says CARBC director and the report’s co-author Dr. Tim Stockwell . “Illicit drugs get more headlines but alcohol causes more harm in terms of premature deaths and in health, social and economic costs. The CARBC report shows that the way alcohol is used in is rarely within low risk guidelines or in a way that would provide health benefits.”

“Patterns of Risky Alcohol Use in British Columbia and : Results of the 2004 Canadian Addictions Survey” compared drinking patterns in B.C. and against guidelines for low risk alcohol consumption using the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey (CAS). The results suggest that most alcohol consumed in B.C. and puts the health and safety of drinker at risk—73 per cent of all reported alcohol consumption is consumed at levels above the Canadian low-risk drinking guidelines. As well, 40 per cent of British Columbians at least occasionally drink above low-risk levels and put themselves and others at risk of short-term harm. Over 90 per cent of the alcohol consumed by young males is above low-risk drinking guidelines. The real figures may be substantially higher due to under-reporting (self-reported consumption levels on the CAS survey only account for one third of the actual alcohol sales).

Low-risk drinking guidelines offer people a way to understand when the risks to health and safety become significant and clearly outweigh any potential benefits. As defined by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Ontario they are: 14 or fewer standard drinks per week for men and nine or fewer for women with no more than two on any one day. Standard drinks refer to one small bottle of beer, a medium-sized glass of wine or a measure of spirits, all of which contain roughly the same alcohol.

The CARBC report is co-authored by CARBC research associate Jodi Sturge and CARBC’s assistant director of research Scott Macdonald . It is available online at http://carbc.uvic.ca/alcoholbulletin2005.pdf


Media contacts:

Dr. Tim Stockwell (CARBC) at cell (250) 415-7376 or office (250) 472-5445 or timstock@uvic.ca

Dan Reist (CARBC) at (604) 408-7753 cell (604) 329-9378 or dreist@uvic.ca

Maria Lironi (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-6139 or lironim@uvic.ca

Alcohol Backgounder

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