Heavy drinking 2008

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Heavy drinking refers to having consumed five or more drinks per occasion, at least 12 times a 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 2008, 24.1% of men and 9.6% of women reported heavy drinking. A higher proportion of men than women in every province and territory and in every age group, reported heavy drinking, with the exception of 12 to 15-year-olds among whom there was no significant difference between the sexes. Men aged 18 to 19 (44.4%) and 20 to 34 (39.1%) were the most likely to report heavy drinking.

Chart 1


Chart 1: Percentage who consumed 5 or more drinks per occasion at least 12 times a year, by age group and sex, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2008

The heavy drinking rate was 15.5% in both Ontario and British Columbia, the only provinces where the rate was significantly below the national average of 16.7%. Rates in Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Alberta were about the same as the Canadian rate, and rates in all other provinces and territories were significantly higher.

In rural areas 18.0% of the population engaged in heavy drinking, significantly above the rate of 16.5% in urban areas.

The percentage who had had at least one alcoholic drink in the past year remained steady between 2001 and 2008 in the 16- to 24-year-old age range.

From 2001 to 2008, the percentage of 12- to 15-year-olds who had had at least one alcoholic drink in the past year declined from 30.2% to 24.6%.

Chart 2


Chart 2: Percentage who had at least one alcoholic drink in the past year, by age group, household population aged 12 to 24, Canada, 2001 to  2008


Additional information from the Canadian Community Health Survey is available from CANSIM table 105-0501.


Alcohol and drug use in early adolescence. Hotton T, Haans D. 2004; 15(3): 9-19.
Alcohol and illicit drug dependence. Tjepkema M. 2004; 15(Suppl.): 9-19.
Moderate alcohol consumption and heart disease. Wilkins K. 2002; 14(1): 9-24.
Passengers of intoxicated drivers. Pérez CE. 2005; 16(2): 35-7.

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