Heavy drinking, 2012

Heavy drinking refers to having consumed five or more drinks, per occasion, at least once a month during the past year. This level of alcohol consumption can have serious health and social consequences, especially when combined with other behaviours such as driving while intoxicated.

In 2012, 17.4% (5.0 million) of Canadians aged 12 and over reported heavy drinking, a decrease from 19.0% in 2011.  The rates of heavy drinking had remained relatively stable between 2005 and 2010 around 17% before increasing in 2011.  The decrease seen in 2012 is a return to the level seen in 2010.

Heavy drinking was reported among 24.3% of males and 10.7% of females in 2012. For males this was a significant decrease from 26.8% in 2011 but a return to about the same level as in 2010.  For females there was no change from 2011 (Chart 1).

Chart 1 Percentage who reported consuming 5 or more drinks per occasion at least 12 times a year, by sex, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2001 to 2012

Description for Chart 1

A higher proportion of males than females reported heavy drinking in every age group, except those 12 to 15 where there was no significant difference between the sexes.

The highest rates of heavy drinking for both sexes were among those aged 18 to 34.  In the 18 to 19 age group, 36.7% of males and 27.0% of females reported heavy drinking, and in the 20 to 34 age group, the rates were 40.9% for males and 22.6% for females (Chart 2).

Chart 2 Percentage who reported  consuming 5 or more drinks per occasion at least 12 times a year, by age group  and sex, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2012

Description for Chart 2

The proportion of residents who reported heavy drinking was lower than the national average (17.4%) in:

  • Ontario (15.4%)
  • British Columbia (16.1%)

The proportion of residents who reported heavy drinking was higher than the national average in:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador (27.2%)
  • Nova Scotia (22.3%)
  • New Brunswick (19.9%)
  • Quebec (18.9%)
  • Northwest Territories (31.7%)

Residents of the other provinces and territories reported rates that were about the same as the national average.

References

Hindmarch I, Bhatti J, Starmer G, Mascord D, Kerr J, Sherwood N. 1992. The effects of alcohol on the cognitive function of males and females and on skills relating to car driving. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical & Experimental [serial online]. Vol.7, No. 2:105. March. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hup.470070205 (accessed May 5, 2013).

Hotton, Tina and Dave Haans. 2004. “Alcohol and drug use in early adolescence.” Health Reports. Vol. 15, no. 3. May. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. p. 9–19. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/studies-etudes/82-003/archive/2004/6846-eng.pdf (accessed May 10, 2010).

Pérez, Claudio. 2005. “Passengers of intoxicated drivers.” Health Reports. Vol. 16, no. 2. March. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. p. 35–37. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/studies-etudes/82-003/archive/2005/7788-eng.pdf (accessed May 10, 2010).

Tjepkema, Michael. 2004. “Alcohol and illicit drug dependence.” Health Reports. Vol. 15 (Supplement). Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. p. 9–19. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-s/2004000/pdf/7447-eng.pdf (accessed May 10, 2010).

Wilkins, Kathryn. 2002. “Moderate alcohol consumption and heart disease.” Health Reports. Vol. 14, no. 1. October. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. p. 9–24. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/studies-etudes/82-003/archive/2002/6342-eng.pdf (accessed May 10, 2010).

Data

Additional data from the Canadian Community Health Survey are available from CANSIM table 105–0501.

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