Alcohol

Drinking alcohol has become a common practice for many people in our society. However, drinking alcohol even at low levels can create some short and long-term harm. 

Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines
To reduce the immediate and long-term alcohol related harms for individuals and our communities, Canada created Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.

There are many myths about the benefits of alcohol. However, the research on this is limited and Canada still recommends that, the safest choice is no alcohol at all. The risks of using alcohol increase with daily use and drinking above Canada's Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines.

Canada recommends that zero alcohol is the limit for certain situations and people:

  • driving a vehicle or using machinery and tools
  • taking medicine or other drugs that interact with alcohol
  • doing any kind of dangerous physical activity
  • living with mental or physical health problems
  • pregnant or planning to be pregnant
  • responsible for the safety of others
  • if you are making important decisions

Alcohol use can put you at risk for stroke, cancer and high blood pressure. See the following resources for more information:

Safe party tips for hosting adult guests:

  • stay sober and alert for possible problems
  • offer appealing non-alcoholic drinks - see Mocktails for Mom
  • encourage your guests to stagger alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks
  • encourage your guests to follow Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines
  • encourage your guests to have no more two drinks in three hours
  • offer food with the drinks. Food slows the passage of alcohol into the bloodstream (salty snacks make people thirsty and they drink more)
  • make sure your guests have a safe drive home if they have alcohol
Impaired driving
Impairment begins with the first drink. Both alcohol and drugs impair thinking, judgment, perception and reaction time.
Information for educators 

As an educator it is important to know about the impact alcohol will have on schools and what information and supports are available to students. The following are resources that educators can use to support students with making the right choices.

Information for health care providers

Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in Canada. It is a leading cause of more than 200 diseases such as heart attack, stroke, liver disease and cancer. In the short-term it has been linked with violence, child abuse, risky sexual behaviour, alcohol poisoning and unemployment.

Reduce the risk of long and short-term alcohol related harms by providing information on Canada’s Low- Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

For more information on health education, screening tools and brief interventions:

Information for parents and caregivers

Alcohol is the number one drug used by Ontario students. Parents and caregivers can do a lot to prevent youth from drinking alcohol.

Alcohol can harm a teen's developing brain and body, so delaying alcohol use as long as possible will decrease some of the harms of alcohol use.

Young people may use alcohol and drugs to cope with stress, unhappiness, loneliness, depression and to fit in with their peers. Watch for any changes in your child's physical appearance, personality, attitude or behaviour. The changes may be a sign of alcohol use.

Signs that youth are using alcohol

  • change in friends or being secretive about friends
  • change in behaviour and attitude such as becoming withdrawn, secretive, or unfocused
  • a drop in school attendance and grades, or increased problems at school
  • a change in finances such as having more or less money than usual
  • ask for help if you feel your child is having problems

Have the conversation

  • talk with your children about alcohol before they become teenagers
  • be involved in their lives; know their friends
  • talk about limits, family rules and consequences
  • talk about what they see in the media or with the behaviour of friends
  • help your child reflect on their mistakes if they experiment with alcohol
  • stay informed about the safest choices and be open
  • be a healthy role model for children

For additional information:

Related pages

Contact Us