Moderate-risk drinking widely practised, largely unexplored

Karen Rushton

Special to The Record

November 26 to December 2, 2018 is National Addictions Awareness Week, an event with the goal of increasing awareness about drugs and alcohol. The Community Drug Strategy Committee has received a small grant from Community Action Initiatives to encourage local dialogue on reducing harms related to moderate risk drinking, and will mark the week in the following ways:

• continue dialogue with local alcohol producers and distributors;

• School & Community Prevention Grant Program asked to focus their applications on alcohol dialogue;

• contact with local municipal governments, community service groups and health organizations; and

• Talking with the community through media and public events.

In contrast with problematic or high-risk drinking, moderate-risk drinking is widely practiced but largely unexplored. This issue is complex and often uncomfortable to talk about because drinking is normalized in our culture and there are tensions between economic influences, health impacts and people’s diverse perspectives and experiences with alcohol.

If you want to learn more, here are some options:

A self-test to see where you are at with your alcohol use: https://bit.ly/2nYmnct and then scroll down to Alcohol Reality Check.

Check out the Committee’s Facebook page (Community Drug Strategy Committee [Comox Valley]) for interesting facts about alcohol; and for links to online information.

To see Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, visit the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction website at www.ccdus.ca.

In the meantime, you can reduce your long-term health risks by drinking no more than:

• 10 drinks a week for women with no more than two drinks a day most days.

• 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than three drinks a day most days.

For some individuals, there is no safe amount of alcohol. By adopting low-risk drinking most people will be able to enjoy alcohol throughout their life. That enjoyment includes being mindful about food and beverages, learning to really taste and pair them. Think of what you may learn.

Here are some safe drinking tips. How many did you already know?

• Set limits for yourself & stick to them.

• Drink slowly. Have no more than 2 drinks in any 3 hours and keep in mind your weekly safe amount.

• For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink. (Tip, when eating at your favourite restaurant(s) ask for non-alcoholic options to pair with your meal).

• Eat before and while you are drinking.

• Always consider your age, body weight and health problems that might suggest lower limits.

• If you are pregnant, planning to be pregnant or breast feeding, the safest choice is not to have alcohol.

• If you know someone who fits this profile, be supportive by encouraging them in their efforts to be safe, and perhaps by also joining them in their decision not to have alcohol at that time.

• Plan to drink in a safe environment

• Plan non-drinking days in every week to avoid developing a habit.

Karen Rushton is the drug strategy co-ordinator, Recreational & Cultural Services, City of Courtenay

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