Adults Alcohol Use in Ontario

2018 Update:

This is a former Day 82 of the 99 Days to FASDay.

Although the information below (and for days 82, 83 and 84) is still relevant, I came across a document created by CanFASD which provided a framework for common messaging about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

You can certainly share the 2017 graphics, or you can check out the 2020 ones on this post: FASD: Common Messaging.

Day 82 of 99 Days to FASDay

Day 82 of 99 Days to FASDay highlights some findings about alcohol use among adults in Ontario (Canada) between 1977 – 2013. We can’t talk about FASD without talking about alcohol. I am not an expert on alcoholism, addiction or recovery. But I do have lived experience with all of these through friends and family.

Drinking alcohol before conception, and during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. It’s that’s simple. But what is not so simple is how we address the way alcohol is ingrained in our society, is marketed to society and the way we treat addiction and those addicted. FASD will not be erased until there is a shift in the perception that alcohol is safe to consume before and during pregnancy, in the glamorization of alcohol and until we provide services to help those who become addicted. Alcohol causes harm in many different ways.

The information below is from a 2015 report: CAMH Monitor eReport: Substance Use, Mental Health and Well-Being Among Ontario Adults 1977-2013 by, Anca R. Ialomiteanu, Hayley A. Hamilton, Edward M. Adlaf, Robert E. Mann. CAMH Research Document Series

Long-Term (Alcohol) Trends in Canada (1977–2013)

Although the majority (78.4%) of Ontario adults are past year drinkers, most do not drink excessively:

  • 93% of drinkers do not binge drink weekly;
  • 81% of drinkers do not exceed recommended drinking guidelines; and
  • 86% do not exceed the AUDIT threshold for hazardous or harmful drinking.

However, the percentage of past year drinkers who reported drinking daily has increased significantly from 5.9% in 2006 to 8.5% in 2013.

  • Males: daily drinking increased from 7.1% in 2005 to 11.4% in 2013.
  • Females: daily drinking increased from a low of 2.6% in 2001 to 5.6% in 2013.

The average number of standard drinks consumed per week among past year drinkers increased from 3.3 in 1996 to 5.1 in 2013.

Overall binge drinking has declined.

Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks on a single occasion weekly has shown a downward trend, from 12.3% in 2006 to 6.8% in 2013.

In most cases, drinking alcohol declined with age.

It is highest however among 18 to 29 year olds, who are significantly more likely than older respondents to:

  • exceed the low-risk drinking guidelines;
  • report weekly binge drinking;
  • drink hazardously or harmfully; and
  • report symptoms of alcohol dependence.

Marital status affects drinking behaviour.

Never married or previously married respondents are more likely to:

  • report weekly binge drinking;
  • exceed the low-risk drinking guidelines; and
  • drink hazardously or harmfully.

Use increases with income.  

Respondents with higher incomes were significantly more likely to:

  • drink alcohol daily;
  • exceed the low-risk drinking guidelines;
  • drink hazardously or harmfully;
  • report symptoms of alcohol dependence; and
  • report drinking and driving.

Prevalence of 12-Month Alcohol Use, High-Risk Drinking, and DSM-IV Alcohol Use Disorder in the United States, 2001-2002 to 2012-2013

Deborah Hasin, a professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center and an author of a study (80,000+ participated) released last week about drinking habits of those in the United States of America, states:

We found that both alcohol use and high-risk drinking, which is sometimes called binge-drinking, increased over time. –  Deborah Hasin.

This study revealed:

Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, 12-month alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and DSM-IV AUD increased by 11.2%, 29.9%, and 49.4%, respectively:

  • alcohol use increasing from 65.4% to 72.7%;
  • high-risk drinking increasing from 9.7% to 12.6%; and
  • DSM-IV AUD increasing from 8.5% to 12.7%.

With few exceptions, increases in alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and DSM-IV AUD between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013 were also statistically significant across sociodemographic subgroups. Increases in all of these outcomes were greatest among women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and individuals with lower educational level and family income.

Hasin also speculated on the increase of women’s drinking and marketing to that segment:

Just looking at display windows in liquor stores, they seem designed to appeal to women. “Everything is pink, it’s all rose,” she says.

And beer-makers have sharpened their pitch to female drinkers too, as this Advertising Age article points out. A recent campaign for Coors Light features women competing in races and climbing mountains. “Every climb deserves a refreshing finish,” the ad’s narrator intones.

Come back for Day 83 (tomorrow) for results of another recent survey about binge drinking on campuses of Canadian Colleges and Universities.