Heavy drinking, 2014

Excessive alcohol consumption can have serious health and social consequences, especially when combined with other behaviours such as driving while intoxicated. For males, heavy drinking refers to having consumed five or more drinks, per occasion, at least once a month during the past year. The same definition applied to females between 2001 and 2012. Starting in 2013, the limit for heavy drinking for females was reduced to four or more drinks.Note 1

In 2014, 17.9% of Canadians aged 12 and over (5.3 million people) reported alcohol consumption that classified them as heavy drinkers. This was a decrease from 2013 when 18.9% were heavy drinkers.

Heavy drinking was reported among 22.7% of males and 13.2% of females in 2014. For males this rate was a significant decrease from 24.5% in 2013. Compared with 2013, the rate of female heavy drinking in 2014 was about the same (Chart 1).

Chart 1

Description for chart 1

Males were more likely to report heavy drinking than females for all ages, except between 12 and 19, where there was no significant difference between the sexes.

The highest rate of heavy drinking for males was among those aged 20 to 34 (37.1%). For females, the highest rates were among those aged 18 to 19 and 20 to 34. In the 18 to 19 age group, 27.0% of females reported heavy drinking, and in the 20 to 34 age group, the rate was 23.7% (Chart 2).

Chart 2

Description for chart 2

The proportion of residents who reported heavy drinking was lower than the national average (17.9%) in:

  • Ontario (16.2%)
  • British Columbia (15.8%)

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

  • Newfoundland and Labrador (25.4%)
  • New Brunswick (21.4%)
  • Quebec (20.2%)
  • Yukon (27.8%)
  • Northwest Territories (32.7%)

Residents of the other provinces and NunavutNote 2 reported rates that were about the same as the national average.

Notes

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, p. 105. March.

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

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

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.

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

Data

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

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