Ontarians are drinking more and smoking more pot, according to a recent survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. While fewer of us are binge drinking (down from 12.6 percent of us in 2006 to 7.1 percent in 2009), the amount who are daily drinkers is up significantly, and the average amount of drinks per week has risen from three to four and a half.
That’s a sign of larger problems, says Robert Mann, a senior scientist at CAMH and lead researcher on the survey. “When we see that drinks per weeks are going up, a lot of research is telling us that problematic drinking styles may be increasing,” he says.
Although alcohol seems innocuous to most people, heavier drinking is a serious health issue: it increases your risk of drinking and driving, liver disease, cancer and other health problems. In fact, alcohol is the third leading contributor to disease and disability, according to the World Health Organization.
“The question for all of us is how to maximize health benefits but minimize risk,” says Mann. So what’s the healthy way to imbibe? Follow CAMH’s low-risk drinking guidelines for women:
- have no more than nine drinks per week (drinking more than that puts you at a higher risk of cancer and other diseases)
- consume no more than two drinks per day
- wait at least an hour between drinks
- don’t drink on an empty stomach
- avoid getting drunk