Next to tobacco, alcohol is in the list of psychoactive substances that cause harm to health. Abuse of alcohol also leads to legal, economic, and social problems.
A study confirmed that the total cost of substance abuse in Canada (including death, illness, and economic cost) amounted to $39.8 billion dollars in 2002. Alcohol abuse accounts to $14.6 billion or 36.6% of the estimated cost. Also included in this list are illegal drugs (48.2 billion) and tobacco ($17 billion).
Based on the results of the Canadian Addiction Survey in 2004, more than 79% of the Canadian population, aged 15 years and above, have taken alcohol the year before the survey was conducted. About 44% admitted drinking at least once a week, while 9.9% did it at least four times a week. The drinking pattern was linked to higher risk of developing alcohol-related problems. The report also indicated that about 6.2% of these drinkers actually admitted to have experienced heavy drinking.
Heavy drinking constitutes at least four drinks in one sitting for females and at least five drinks in one sitting for males, once a week. About 25.5% also experienced this pattern of drinking at least once a month. According to the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test, up to 17% are high-risk drinkers Majority of heavy drinkers were identified as males aged below 25.
On the incidence of alcohol dependence, about 2.6% of Canadians, 15 years old and above, had symptoms that are linked with alcohol dependence. This is based on 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey. Patterns of heavy drinking also led to being drunk while looking after the kids or while attending school or work.