October 29th, 2020

Healthy drinking for the holidays


By Submitted Article on December 19, 2019.

Dr. Lizette Elumir

ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES

December has arrived, and there will be numerous occasions where alcohol will be served.

Most Albertans who consume alcohol do so in moderation by following Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRDG). Those who drink above the guideline limits may experience significant and devastating effects, both to themselves and others, and their respective families.

Individuals can take steps to reduce alcohol-related risks and harms by learning about, and following the guidelines. Communities as a whole can be proactively involved in helping create healthy alcohol policies.

To begin with, do you know what constitutes a “standard” drink? It might be less than you think:

– 341 ml (12 oz.) glass of beer, cider or a cooler with five-per-cent alcohol content

– 142 ml (5 oz.) glass of wine with 12-per-cent alcohol content

– 43 ml (1.5 oz.) serving of 40-per-cent distilled alcohol (for example: rye, gin, rum, vodka, etc.)

YOUR LIMITS

Reduce your long-term health risks by drinking no more than:

– 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than two drinks a day most days

– 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than three drinks a day most days

Plan non-drinking days every week to avoid developing a habit. Canada’s LRDGs include Your Limits, advice for special occasions and when zero alcohol should be considered, and particular tips for those who should delay drinking.

To learn more about these categories, visit: http://www.rethinkyourdrinking.ca/what-is-a-standard-drink.

Municipalities in Alberta can join cities and towns already developing healthy preventative alcohol policies. These municipalities are both committed and well-positioned to create vibrant communities where residents can thrive. Evidence shows that through the development of healthy preventative alcohol policies, municipalities can realize a host of benefits that go far beyond improved individual and public/population health and safety, such as reduced community disruption, reduced demand on security and police resources, and reduced costs to taxpayers.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is committed to supporting municipalities in this important process. For more information contact the Provincial Addiction Prevention Team at: Addiction.Prevention@albertahealthservices.ca.

In the short term, every drink increases a person’s chances of being impaired and subsequently being injured, being involved in motor vehicle collisions, being involved in violence (as victim or perpetrator), and of harm from risky sexual behaviour. For those who are depressed, drinking increases the chances of impulsive suicide attempts. Once guidelines are exceeded, all possible benefits of moderate alcohol consumption vanish. Long-term average alcohol consumption also increases the risk of seizures, pancreatitis, liver cirrhosis, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure and stroke. It’s important to remember that any alcohol consumption can lead to significant health risks, both in the short and long term.

AHS offers a wide range of services for individuals looking for help for someone they care about, or for themselves. AHS also offers a series of resources on alcohol available online or at your local Addiction and Mental Health Office. All interactions are confidential.

For more information, and to find an Addiction and Mental Health services office near you, call the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322. It’s free, confidential and available 24 hours a day. To learn more about services and programs, email Michelle Sauve in Medicine Hat, michelle.sauve@ahs.ca or Chris Windle in Lethbridge, chris.windle@ahs.ca

Dr. Lizette Elumir is the Medical Officer of Health, South Zone, Alberta Health Services

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