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Researchers Lay Out Goals to Reduce Toll of Alcohol Abuse in Canada

Posted in Alcohol Abuse

An analysis in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, written by researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, and the University of Victoria, states that focused programs and public health policies can help reduce alcohol problems in Canada. Alcohol contributes significantly to acute and chronic diseases, social problems, and trauma. The analysis outlines several steps that should be taken to reduce the impact of alcohol on society and individuals.

In 2002, the estimated health case costs of alcohol in Canada were $3.3 billion, and total direct and indirect costs of alcohol were $14.6 billion, compared with $17 billion in costs from tobacco and $8.2 billion in costs from illegal drugs. Per capita alcohol sales have increased by 13 percent since 1996 and are expected to continue to rise. In 2002, about 450,000 Canadians were dependent on alcohol, 1.3 million were risky drinkers, and there were more than 8,300 alcohol-related deaths.

The authors of the analysis recommend a comprehensive public health approach to reduce the toll of alcohol in Canada. This could include setting prices that are based on alcohol strength and are adjusted for inflation, eliminating discount pricing on alcohol, strengthening government control systems on alcohol, restricting geographic access to alcohol, increasing drunk-driving penalties, and encouraging doctors and clinicians to perform brief interventions. They also suggest placing limits on alcohol marketing and promotion.

Dr. Norman Giesbrecht of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and co-authors wrote that an effective policy needs to be multidimensional and involve a combination of population-level policies, targeted interventions, and services for high-risk drinkers or those who are alcohol-dependent.

The authors note evidence that supports the effectiveness of interventions in other countries. They wrote that coordinated action is required from public health officials, charities, medical association, clinicians, and governments to help raise awareness of problem drinking and to reduce the toll of alcohol in Canada.

Source: Science Daily, Reducing the Toll of Alcohol in Canada, February 7, 2011