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Pricier Liquor, Fewer Stores Would Reduce Canada's High Rates Of Alcohol Abuse: Report

A new study has revealed that alcohol-related conditions accounted for more hospitalizations in Canada last year than heart attacks.

Alcohol poisoning, alcohol withdrawal, liver disease, chronic alcohol abuse and other conditions that are “100 per cent caused by the harmful consumption of alcohol" made for roughly 77,000 admissions, according to a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). That works out to 212 per day – and that doesn’t include those treated in emergency departments and released.

By contrast, there were 75,000 admissions for heart attacks in that same timeframe.

"Our expectation is that this will be an important indicator for monitoring public health," said Geoff Hynes, manager of the Canadian Population Health Initiative for CIHI.

"We can look at patterns, which could inform what governments and the health system can do to address these high numbers."

Binge drinking comes with a number of risks, including pancreatitis, liver cirrhosis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

There were 5,082 alcohol-attributable deaths in Canada in 2015, according to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Alcohol abuse also has a significant financial toll. In 2014-2015, the average cost of hospitalization caused by alcohol was estimated at $8,100 – compared to the average hospital stay for other causes at $5,800.

Researchers found there were more alcohol-related hospitalizations in Canada’s territories than in its provinces, and more in the west than in the east – with the exception of Nova Scotia.

Increasing the price of alcohol, said Hynes, is "one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to reduce alcohol harm, population-wide."

Reducing open hours and number of stores is also linked to less consumption, claims the report.

Hynes said it will take "a strategy that brings together multiple effective policies.”

h/t CBC News


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