With another Canada Day come and gone the opportunity to discuss drinking habits feels missed. When I was working as a Paramedic in Ottawa, Canada Day was one of the busiest days of the year. It’s no doubt alcohol had a lot to do with the amount of calls as the crowds of people flocking to parliament hill for all the festivities, good times, events and the famous ByWard market seems endless. When it’s a beautiful day, the weather has a huge factor on the amount of people celebrating, how long they stay and how much they celebrate. When the heat rises so does the drinking. This year I finally heard some good advice as Mayor Watson suggested how to have a great Canada Day is easy “have water every other one!” Did you?
Keeping hydrated while drinking is especially important when it’s hot out. Unfortunately not everyone is drinking responsibly… I mean what’s not Canadian about having a beer on Canada day? Especially if you’re dressed in red and white head to toe waving your mini flag with your temporary tattoo’s plastered on your face. Awesome. I admit, when I first moved to Ottawa almost a decade ago Canada Day on the hill was something to look forward to all year. I would have visitors from all over begging for a place to stay and there wasn’t a single bar that wasn’t busy. Who’s out there giving responsible drinking tips? Have you heard any?
Drinking in Canada is like a right of passage, a culture of “we deserve it”, “it’s not like I’m smoking” …what is it about alcohol that makes us not want to see the harms of it? We need to talk (about our drinking), an article in the globe and mail was published just before Canada day and I think they said it best about harmful drinking.
“It doesn’t take as much as you may think to qualify – 10 drinks a week for a woman, 15 for a man – face the biggest risks, emerging evidence shows that even moderate amounts are also tied to disease.”
With all that fun, drinking and celebrations what’s the big deal. Who was telling us that what we were doing had risks? Sounds odd to say risky but when you drink more than a couple you let your guard down and decision making capabilities are hindered by alcohol. You’re more likely to engage in risky behaviour, have unwanted sex, get into a car with another driver who may have been drinking. This may not be new information yet almost a quarter of Ottawa adults are heavy drinking and that number is on the rise. Does that surprise you?
That’s over 160 000 people in Ottawa that are heavy drinkers having 5 or more drinks (binge drinking) on a single occasion at least once a month. Does this shock you?
1. Ottawa Public Health. Substance Misuse in Ottawa: Technical Report. March 2013. Ottawa (ON): Ottawa Public Health; 2013.
2. Report to Board of Health. March 18, 2013. Ottawa ON: Ottawa Public Health; 2013.