Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Doctors Say Ontario Needs to Address Its 'Drinking Problem'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Doctors Say Ontario Needs to Address Its 'Drinking Problem'

Article excerpt

Ontario has 'drinking problem': doctors

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TORONTO - Ontario has a drinking problem and the government must do something about it, the organization representing the province's doctors said Tuesday.

The Ontario Medical Association said heavy drinking is very common and gets far less attention than alcoholism, even though it also has potentially serious consequences.

"People don't always realize that heavy drinking, as opposed to developing a clinical disorder, has other kinds of health consequences, whether it's developing liver disease or other things that people forget about," OMA President Dr. Doug Weir said Tuesday.

"The problems are there now, we see them every day," he said, pointing to chronic conditions such as insomnia and depression as well as dangerous behaviours that can cause injury or death.

The association cites studies that show about 80 per cent of Ontario's population reports consuming alcohol and more than 15 per cent reports drinking heavily.

Excessive drinking among Canadians tends to peak in the early to mid-20s and gradually decrease starting in the 30s, though it's more widespread in underage circles than some may believe, the group says.

Heavy drinking is defined as consuming more than the recommended weekly maximum, which is 10 standard drinks for women and 15 for men.

The issue is the focus of a policy paper to be released April 17th.

A draft version obtained by The Canadian Press examines public health programs that can help mitigate the harms of heavy drinking on society and the drinkers themselves.

It said efforts to target teenagers -- the age when drinking typically starts -- would be more effective if they focused on moderation rather than abstinence.

"Right now, the program they're using, which is called DARE, has been found not really to be very useful and there's a number of other programs that take a more harm-reduction kind of attitude," Weir said. …

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