A new study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health has found that there is a strong correlation between exposure to mass traumatic events and increased alcohol consumption and related harms both in the short term and for one to two years after a crisis. This finding is concerning as Canadians report an increase in alcohol consumption since the pandemic began. Matters are worsened by deregulation and weakening of alcohol policy solutions.

A previous study conducted in April 2020 by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction found 25% of Canadians between the ages of 35 and 54 reported an increase in the amount of alcohol they consumed during lockdown and stay-at-home orders.

The increase in consumption is possibly due to deregulation and the weakening of alcohol laws across Canadian Provinces.

  • Most provinces, with the exception of Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) declared essential status for alcohol.
  • P.E.I. attempted to close liquor stores during the initial phase of the lockdown but withdrew the decision soon.
  • Vancouver, for instance, weakened alcohol policy rules governing liquor availability by allowing restaurants to offer alcohol for takeout with take-away food and cutting the retail markup for alcohol purchased by restaurants.
  • North Vancouver and Port Coquitlam have started to allow using alcohol at selected local parks and public spaces, further fueling increasing alcohol availability.

Another public health crisis is brewing beneath COVID-19

Dr. Erin Hobin, a scientist at Public Health Ontario and the co-author of the study “Is another public health crisis brewing beneath the COVID-19 pandemic?” said that there was no clear, coordinated national guidance for how best to address alcohol during the pandemic. She suggested a study of how different jurisdictions handled alcohol law weakening or improving during the pandemic may provide information for better evidence-based policies in the future.

…if alcohol retailers are deemed an essential service is that signalling to the public that alcohol is an essential commodity or product,” asked Dr. Hobin, as per The Province.

Dr. Erin Hobin, study co-author and scientist at Public Health Ontario

Cheyenne Johnson, an addiction expert with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use stresses the importance of prioritizing alcohol harm which often takes a back seat due to the continuing overdose crisis.

The harmful effects of alcohol, the cost to society, morbidity and mortality far outweigh illicit drugs in the long term. Alcohol is a known carcinogen linked to over 200 types of cancers and many chronic conditions,” said Cheyenne Johnson, as per The Province.

Cheyenne Johnson, addiction expert, Centre on Substance Use in British Columbia

Source Website: The Province