Thursday, July 31, 2008

Binge drinking 'out of control'

Binge drinking is "spiraling out of control" in Grey-Bruce, with a third of residents who drink alcohol reporting engaging in it during the past year, a figure 12 per cent higher than both the provincial and national averages.

The percentage of local drinkers over the age of 12 binge drinking nearly doubled to 34 per cent in 2007 from 18 per cent in 2001, according to the Canadian Community Health Survey, which monitors a range of health indicators including alcohol and tobacco use.

"For the most part, most places in Canada have not doubled. These numbers are just really high," said Matthew Myatt, associate epidemiologist for the Grey Bruce Health Unit.

"I wouldn't say we expected to see the jump in the numbers because this is really high, 12 per cent (higher than the average) is huge."

The provincial average for binge drinking by those who drink alcohol was 21.2 per cent in 2007, the national average was 21.8 per cent. Binge drinking is considered to be having five or more drinks on one occasion at least once per month in the past 12 months.

"Alcohol abuse through binge drinking is spiraling out of control in Grey Bruce," the health unit said in a news release. "Alcohol is the most popular drug in Grey Bruce and its abuse is on the rise."

Research has proven that adverse health effects due to drinking begin at the "binge drinking" level of consumption, Myatt added.

According to Dr. Geoffrey Fong, a psychologist at the University of Waterloo, binge drinking is heavily affected by social context and peer pressure.

"If you start drinking at a young age it becomes a problem that quickly becomes a social epidemic because it's highly visible and spreads throughout a social group," said Fong, an expert in global health issues and the effects of alcohol on social behaviour.

"What initially may seem like a small increase in drinking will blossom fairly quickly because of social effects."

The local co-ordinator of the FOCUS Community Program says the goal of program is to prevent problems, including injuries and chronic diseases, associated with drinking and drug use.

"If adults that drink alcohol can begin to assess the amount and their patterns of drinking, we hope there will be a change in the culture of drinking in Grey Bruce and also a reduction in the burden of disease," Marie Barclay, a public health nurse, said in a news release.
source: Owen Sound Sun Times

No comments: