Prevention & Recovery

How much do you drink?

By: Tralee Pearce

Getty Images Author: Canadian Living Credits: Getty Images

Prevention & Recovery

How much do you drink?

By: Tralee Pearce
When was the last time your doctor asked you how much alcohol you drink a day? Or a week? If the authors of a new review have their way, it won’t be easy to forget. It just might happen every visit.

That’s because 15 to 20 percent of Canadians meet the criteria for alcohol disorders, according to Dr. Anne Moyer of Stony Brook University in New York and Dr. John Finney of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Menlo Park, Calif. They conducted the review of alcohol misuse which appears in the current issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

As the CBC reports, the authors write that alcohol-related injuries and accidents (including care accidents) account for seven percent of all deaths in Canada and "substantial disability."

They recommend doctors and nurses screen patients for risky drinking behaviour and start a short conversation about cutting back or seeking treatment. Then, the topic can be revisited during the next visit.

What the guidelines say
The current Canadian guidelines for low-risk drinking are:
  • No more than 10 drinks a week for women (with no more than 2 drinks a day on most days).
  • A maximum of 15 drinks a week for men (with no more than 3 drinks a day on most days).
  • Abstinence for pregnant women.
And a standard drink is defined as:
  • 341 mL or 12 ounces of beer with five percent alcohol.
  • 142 mL or 5 ounces of wine with 10 to 12 percent alcohol.
  • 85 mL or 3 ounces of fortified wine with 16 to 18 percent alcohol.
  • 43 mL or 1.5 ounces of liquor with 40 percent alcohol.
At the same time, Toronto doctor Mike Evans has added a new illustrated video to his roster of health explainers which could be a useful tool in getting the word out about problem drinking. He acknowledges that alcohol is a tricky subject, because it is a social lubricant, one that is “linked to so many positive life events.”

He goes on to explain that he’s even moving away from the term alcoholic, because it leaves out people who may not have a massive problem but who wonder if they should cut back.

For more on simple changes you can make, here are 5 ways to live longer and how to start today.
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How much do you drink?

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