Students and the CCSA offer input on ways to reduce harms related to alcohol consumption
The Rethink the Drink event that was recently organized on campus has inspired conversation around the importance of addressing the culture of binge drinking we reside in. There are many facets of drinking that can be explored, but alcohol harm reduction must be emphasized.
It is the goal of the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) to reduce the harm of alcohol and other drugs on society through various forms of education, including the Rethink the Drink event. Information provided by the CCSA says that low-risk drinking assists in promoting moderation as well as supporting a healthy lifestyle. They also suggest that limiting alcohol consumption to 10 drinks per week for women and 15 drinks per week for men will reduce long-term health risks.
The CCSA provides safer drinking tips, which include: abiding by the limits you set for yourself; not having more than two drinks in any three consecutive hours; eating before and while you drink; and coupling every alcoholic beverage consumed with a non-alcoholic drink. It is important to stress that the choice to drink is personal. We are individually able to choose the circumstances in which we drink, but low-risk alcohol consumption is what will change a binge drinking culture to one that emphasizes moderation.
Emma Miller, the MASU vice-president of student life, helped organize the Rethink the Drink event and said that she wants “to facilitate more opportunities that will allow students to talk about issues regarding alcohol consumption, with the hopes of straying away from the binge drinking culture that we have become accustomed to.” Second-year student Lauren Boyce said, “conversation surrounding binge drinking at our school should continue and information about alcohol harms reduction could be better shared with students living in residence.”
In response to asking about the importance of talking about binge drinking, third-year student Anneke van der Laan said, “It’s not abnormal to hear someone talking about blacking out because of drinking, sometimes even as often as every couple of weeks. Sometimes even more often.” She continued, saying that “we need to rethink the consequences that come with binge drinking and what it might be doing to our body and our safety.” Being educated on the possible risks of drinking heavily is so important, and could be the reason you avoid getting “blackout drunk” this weekend.
The effects consuming alcohol can have on our mental health is another important issue that needs to be addressed. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the rates of alcohol consumption are high for individuals with depression, and there is indication that abuse of alcohol could lead to depression. The Public Health Agency of Canada also collected data in 2000 that linked 25 to 30 per cent of suicides in Canada to alcohol.
Holding events like Rethink the Drink is a step in the right direction towards better conversation and understanding in regard to low-risk drinking. However, there is a need for continued conversation because drinking has become so normalized in our society. Again, drinking is a personal choice, but it must be done safely.