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Alcohol

If you drink, you can reduce your risk of injury, chronic health problems and social and family problems if you follow Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.


Guidelines

The guidelines recommend adults aged 25 to 65 years drink no more than:

  • 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than two drinks a day
  • 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than three drinks a day

On special occasions, you might drink more than usual. Reduce your risk by drinking no more than 3 drinks (for women) or 4 drinks (for men) on any single occasion.

These guidelines are meant for healthy adults. They may not be appropriate for you, if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have health problems such as liver disease
  • Have a family history of cancer or have other risk factors for cancer (i.e. smoking tobacco)

A drink is one serving of:

  • 341 ml (12 ounces) of 5% alcohol like beer OR
  • 142 ml (5 ounces) of 12% alcohol like wine OR
  • 43 ml (1.5 ounces) of 40% alcohol like spirits and liqueur

These guidelines are limits, not targets. If you drink less than the recommended limit, don't start drinking more.

Alcohol is a known carcinogen, (a substance that causes cancer). It is not the type of alcohol that increases your risk of cancer, but rather how much you drink and how often. As alcohol intake increases, the risk of cancer increases. To reduce the risk of cancer, the World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men; even less is better.



Talking to Teens: 12 Tips for Parents

  1. Find out in a friendly way where your teen is, who they’re with and what they are doing.
  2. Continue to build a relationship with your teen that is warm, caring and affectionate.
  3. Be open to talking with your teen about limits, family rules and consequences. Be consistent with following through on the rules and consequences.
  4. Talk to your kids before they become teens and keep the conversation going. Discuss different topics, not just alcohol so that you can hear your teen’s opinions and values.
  5. Use movies and advertisements to discuss how alcohol or drinking is often positively portrayed but the negative effects are rarely shown. Research shows that alcohol advertising can affect how early youth start to drink and can influence youth who already drink, to drink more.
  6. You can influence your teen’s decisions around drinking. Research shows youth believe their parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol. Talk about not drinking or delaying drinking as long as possible.
  7. If you drink alcohol, set a good example. Refer to Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines and discuss how you use the guidelines to manage your own drinking. Avoid talking about alcohol as fun, glamorous or a stress reliever.
  8. Stay knowledgeable. You don’t have to be an expert, but if you keep current on your knowledge about alcohol, you can share information that may help your teen make better choices.
  9. If you and your teen are hosting a party, make it an alcohol-free event and make sure there is adult supervision.
  10. If your child is attending a party, discuss what to do if alcohol is present. Let teens know they can depend on you to help them if they are worried about their own or a friend’s safety.
  11. Know that experimentation and mistakes happen. By understanding that a teen’s brain is still developing, you’ll be able to better understand why your teen may place themselves in risky situations. Help your teen reflect on a mistake to make it into a learning opportunity. Be sure to wait until you’re both calm and ready to talk.
  12. Be mindful of challenges and pressures in your teen’s life. Many youth today experience anxiety, stress and depression and may use alcohol or other drugs to cope. Help your teen find positive ways to deal with the stressors in his/her life. If you feel your teen is experiencing problems, seek help.


References: "Stats, Facts and Talking Points about Alcohol and Other Drugs" (Parent Action on Drugs), "Strategies for Parents to Prevent Underage Drinking" (Hamilton Public Health Services, Hamilton Police, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board)

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Tips for Safe Drinking

  • Set limits for yourself and stick to them
  • Drink slowly. Have no more than two drinks in three hours
  • For every alcoholic drink, have a non-alcoholic drink
  • Eat before and while you are drinking
  • Always consider your age, body weight and health problems. These factors may affect the impact of alcohol and you may need to lower your drinking limit
  • While drinking may provide health benefits for certain groups of people (under certain conditions), do not start to drink or increase your drinking to benefit your health
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