TORONTO, April 2, 2013 /CNW/ - Heavy alcohol consumption in Ontario is very high, but so far, no concerted effort has been made to mitigate the harms that this can cause. Ontario's doctors are calling on the government to expand alcohol harm reduction programming in the province. The OMA's latest policy paper examines the rate of alcohol use among Ontarians and proposes public policy options with regard to heavy drinking.
Alcohol is by far the most addictive substance used by Ontarians, and binge drinking is common. Since 80% of Ontarians drink alcohol at least occasionally, negative alcohol-related consequences can directly impact a substantial proportion of the population. Medical evidence clearly indicates that alcohol consumption can cause a variety of chronic diseases and can lead to the development or worsening of numerous medical conditions, including cirrhosis of the liver, various cancers, pancreatic damage, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Ontario's doctors are calling on public policy makers to make the link between medical research and harm reduction practice. To date, public health programs for preventing heavy drinking among teenagers and young adults have not been effective in lowering heavy and binge drinking behaviours. Included in the policy paper are a number of recommendations aimed at mitigating the harms associated with alcohol consumption, such as:
- Improve harm reduction programs in secondary and post-secondary schools;
- Implement adult-focused harm reduction programs to provide support to those not in educational settings;
- The LCBO is expected to increase revenues by $100 million, some portion of this should support new harm reduction programs, with an emphasis on preventing negative health outcomes;
- Work to prevent and address factors that drive heavy drinking behaviour, such as sexual and physical violence, trauma, and stigma and discrimination.
Binge drinking is dangerous and often leads to serious consequences for your health and well-being. Ontario's doctors want to see better harm reduction programs in schools and communities across Ontario that help to address the harmful effects associated with alcohol consumption.
Dr. Doug Weir
Ontario Medical Association
SOURCE: Ontario Medical Association
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