Alcohol: Risky business
Using alcohol can be risky business. While there may be some benefits, there are also risks to misusing alcohol.
It’s no ordinary commodity. Alcohol dependence affects 5% of people who drink.
The more a person drinks alcohol, the greater the risks for personal injury or harm through motor vehicle collisions or violence. Alcohol use over a long time increases your risks for some chronic diseases, including high blood pressure and stroke; addictions and mental health issues; and mouth, oesophageal, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancers.
Risks for injuries
- According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, using alcohol before driving increases your chances of getting into a serious collision.
- Alcohol is often implicated in violent incidences (National Center for Biotechnology Information).
- Alcohol use often results in an increase in the severity of partner violence (National Center for Biotechnology Information).
Risks for diseases
- A woman’s chance of getting breast cancer increases with daily alcohol use (Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation).
- Alcohol use raises blood pressure, which may lead to heart disease and stroke (Heart & Stroke Foundation).
- Alcohol use contributes to liver cancer, and rates in Canada are rising (World Health Organization).
- Cancers of the mouth occur more often in people who use alcohol, especially in people who also smoke tobacco (National Center for Biotechnology Information).
- A mother’s alcohol use during pregnancy can result in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (Canadian FASD Research Network). Alcohol can change a baby’s brain, creating problems with memory, attention span and ability to understand consequences that can last a lifetime.
- In 2002 the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse estimated that alcohol-related issues cost Canadians $14.6 billion.
- About 1 person in 10 who drinks is dependent on alcohol, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Reduce the risks for long-term health concerns:
Anyone over the age of 25 should follow the Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines:
- A woman should consume no more than 2 alcoholic beverages (standard serving size) on most days and no more than 10 alcoholic beverages in a week.
- A man should consume no more than 3 alcoholic beverages (standard serving size) on most days and no more than 15 alcoholic beverages in a week.
To reduce the risks for injury or harm:
- Women should not drink more than 3 alcoholic beverages on any single occasion.
- Men should not drink more than 4 alcoholic beverages on any single occasion.
Standard serving sizes vary with each alcoholic beverage.
Legal drinking age in Ontario is 19. People 19 to 24 should NEVER exceed the daily and weekly limits.
When you should not use any alcohol:
- when driving or using machinery and tools
- while taking certain medications that interact with alcohol
- when engaging in dangerous physical activity
- if you are living with mental or physical health problems
- if you are living with alcohol dependence
- if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
- when you are making important decisions
- if you are responsible for the safety of others
Mixing alcohol with energy drinks can be a dangerous combination
- Energy drinks can have up to 180 mg of caffeine per container, which is more caffeine than in a 250 mL cup of regular brewed coffee and about 5 times more than in a can of cola.
- Consuming too much caffeine, either from artificial or natural sources, can cause rapid heart rate, irritability, nervousness, and sleeping problems.
- Mixing energy drinks with alcohol (Educ alcool) can mask the feeling of being drunk. If you do not feel the effects of alcohol, you are more likely to drink more or take risks that you would normally not.
- Whether pre-mixed or self-mixed, energy drinks should not be used with alcohol.
- People who use energy drinks with alcohol (both pre-mixed or added alcohol) are more likely to:
- hurt themselves or be injured
- require medical attention
- get into a vehicle with a drunk driver
- assault someone sexually
- be sexually abused
This item was last modified on September 24, 2020