Canadian women are increasingly landing themselves in hospital, or even the morgue, due to an uptick in dangerous drinking habits, Canada's chief public health officer has warned.
Dr. Theresa Tam's 2018 report on the state of public health in Canada, released in late October, has found that the instances of women dying from alcohol abuse is climbing at much higher rate than men.
The alcohol-attributed death rate for women increased by 26 per cent between 2001 and 2017, she found, while the same figure for men only increased by five per cent in the same time.
"We have lost sight of the fact that continued high rates of problematic alcohol consumption are leading to a wide range of harms," she wrote.
"Men still have higher rates of alcohol consumption ... but women are catching up and this is really a worrying sign. There's an increase in the rate of heavy drinking among women," Tam told CBC News.
According to her research, 794 women and 2,285 men died from alcohol-related causes in 2015.
Among psychoactive substances, alcohol is responsible for the greatest harms to CDNs. Deaths resulting from alcohol consumption are on the rise. We need to re-consider how we view and normalize alcohol. Report: https://t.co/YdNL35p05m pic.twitter.com/NiKroyIl03— Dr. Theresa Tam (@CPHO_Canada) October 31, 2018
"Women are drinking more like men," Tim Stockwell, director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, told Global News, adding that, overall, each drink of alcohol is more intoxicating for women and does more damage to a woman's health than it does to a man.
Women aren't the only group that are showing signs of high-risk alcohol use, however. Tam found that almost 25 per cent of kids in grade seven to 12 are drinking excessively — in other words, having five or more drinks on a single occasion in the past year.
➡ 24% of students in grades 7 -12 reported heavy drinking in the past year. 5% of 15-24 year olds who used cannabis in the past 3 months, reported using it on a daily or almost daily basis. https://t.co/qXLxcnmSdn pic.twitter.com/GHN5Jnrk9r— Dr. Theresa Tam (@CPHO_Canada) October 26, 2018
These teens reported "having fun" as the number one reason why they drink alcohol, but she also noted that a small group reported using alcohol to cope with stress or emotional pain.
Girls aged 10 to 19 also end up in hospital for alcohol-related treatments at a higher rate than boys of the same age, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reported earlier this year.
"Alcohol is the direct cause of thousands of hospitalizations and deaths every year in Canada," said Kathleen Morris, CIHI's vice president of Research and Analysis, in a press release. "It is troubling to see the rates for women increase so much faster than those for men."
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In 2015, 3,079 Canadians died due to conditions caused entirely by alcohol — more than the 2,066 killed in car crashes that year, Statistics Canada reported.
Also, the number of people hospitalized in Canada in 2015 due to conditions caused entirely by alcohol (80,000) was similar to the number of people hospitalized due to heart attacks (77,000).
Tam warned in her report that recent national conversations regarding the opioid crisis and legalization of marijuana should not overshadow the dangers of drinking, especially when it comes to educating youth.
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