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Canadians Don't Want to Admit How Bad Their Drinking Problem Is

Canada's Public Health Agency found a drop in the amount of alcohol that Canadians report drinking but an increase in overall booze sales.
February 6, 2016, 3:00pm
Photo via Flickr user Ruth Hartnop

While it's certainly true that Canadians like to drink, there is a darker side to the hoser stereotype.

Canadians Don't Want to Admit How Bad Their Drinking Problem IsThe average Canadian drinks approximately 76 litres of beer, 16 litres of wine, and 5 litres of hard liquor per year.

That's a lot of booze and translates to roughly $21 billion in annual alcohol sales, a number which is on the rise according to a recent report looking at the link between sales, drinking habits, and public health.


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The study, titled "Alcohol Consumption in Canada", was undertaken by the country's Public Health Agency and found a self-reported drop in the amount of alcohol that Canadians report drinking on a yearly basis. Yet, interestingly, overall sales were up by 1.1%, which could meant that Canadians were a little loose (or hungover) when it came to recalling how much they drank over the course of the year.

The report chalks this inconsistency up to the fact that people don't really like to admit that they get shitfaced regularly. "Most people tend to under-report how much alcohol they drink. Not only do people tend to underestimate how much they and others drink, they also tend to underestimate how harmful alcohol is," according to the report.

And alcohol is indeed harmful, both physically and socially, which means it's also a heavy burden for Canadian taxpayers, costing them about $14.6 billion every year. The report found that heavy boozing was also responsible for $7.1 billion in lost productivity, $3.3 billion in health care costs, and $3.1 billion in law enforcement.

READ: Canada's Booze Laws Might Be Unconstitutional

And it's not just sales that are on the rise."Risky drinking," which health officials said can lead to "family conflict, violence, crime including rape, and traffic accidents through impaired driving" is also climbing rapidly. Risky drinking among Canadians aged 15 years and older almost doubled from 16.7 to 38.6 percent in one year, according to the study, which also pointed to high levels of underage drinking.

But Canada's drinking issues run far deeper than the occasional bender. The report also found that marketing companies, the service is industry, and society in general are all complicit in pushing what is basically a heavy drug onto Canadians. "Our society condones, supports, and in some cases promotes drinking such as through 'drink of the day' specials, sale prices on certain brands, and associating alcohol with fun and sophistication."

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Gregory Taylor didn't mince words after reading the report.

"Although handled more like a food in Canada, alcohol is a mind-altering drug and there are health risks associated with drinking," he said, adding, "I hope this report will raise awareness and stimulate frank conversations between Canadians, especially with their loved ones, and helps us reflect on how our society deals with this mind-altering drug."