Even though drinking alcohol is a significant part of the night scene, many young residents in Halton are ending up in the hospital due to irresponsible consumption.
According to a recent journal posted on Monday (July 22) by the Canadian Medical Association, emergency room visits due to alcohol increased by 86 per cent for women and 53 per cent for men.
While men still have the overall majority of ER visits, the increase was much more significant for women, and experts believe that these numbers may only increase further.
This information was gathered by the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, from a total of 765,354 emergency room visits across the province caused by alcohol abuse between 2003 and 2016.
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Researchers believe that the increase may be part of a larger global trend, reflecting changing gender norms around substance use.
“Not only are Canadian women drinking more, but they are also consuming alcohol in more harmful patterns,” claims the journal.
It continued: “Young women are most affected, likely as the result of having the largest increases in consumption: in the youngest birth cohorts, women have reached parity with men for alcohol consumption globally. Youth are also more likely to experience negative effects from alcohol use than adults.”
So what can be done to reduce the number of ER visits for both women and men?
The journal claims that many different factors can help to reduce consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol. Some examples included:
- Increasing prices for alcoholic beverages.
- Increasing taxation for alcoholic beverages.
- Banning the promotion of alcohol.
An important point to remember to these points is they are suggestions by the researchers on how to reduce substance abuse in regards to alcohol. While they may seem extreme at first glance, they by no means are saying to ban products.
Increasing the price slightly on drinks would discourage many younger Ontarians from over-consuming a product to save money.
Banning the promotion of alcohol may be extreme as there have been no studies to determine it would have an impact.
Researchers note in the report: “Although the evidence is less clear, banning the promotion of alcohol would likely reduce harm, particularly among youth. Recent targeted promotional activities appear to have contributed to increased consumption by women.”
A better solution in the middle ground would be stronger regulations on what can be promoted in terms of alcoholic beverages.
Researchers also believe that social programs that reduce economic disparity and poverty are also likely to reduce harms. Even when rates of alcohol consumption are similar, people with higher socioeconomic status are far less likely to experience alcohol-related harm.
There are other challenges as the report also notes: “These policies, however, have rarely been assessed by gender. As a result, there is little insight into how pricing, availability and marketing policies affect women and men separately.”
The understanding of the impact of alcohol-based on gender is likely to become more critical as consumption patterns and burdens of disease change.
In terms of what the future may look like in Ontario, the report states: “Although some provinces and territories have implemented policies that affect the price and availability of alcohol in the past few decades, the Government of Ontario has begun substantial policy changes — which have been widely reported — including reducing price minimums on beer, allowing bars and retail outlets to start selling alcohol in the early morning, announcing plans to permit the sale of beer in corner stores and cutting several social programs. The additional harms of such policies will likely be substantial.”
Only time will tell if the concerns of the researchers will come true.
What do you think will help reduce the number of ER visits due to alcohol?
Photo courtesy of Ottawa Hospital Research Institute