Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Alcohol & Drugs

Low-Risk Drinking

Historical Trends
Current Prevalence

By Sex
By Age Group
By Income

On November 25, 2011 the first ever national low risk alcohol drinking guidelines were released in Canada. The Canadian Low Risk Drinking Guidelines (LRDG) are intended for people of legal drinking age who choose to drink alcohol and are based on the most recent and best available scientific research and evidence. They are intended to provide consistent information across the country to help Canadians control their alcohol consumption and reduce their immediate and long-term alcohol-related harm. For more detailed information about the guidelines, visit the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse website.

Average long-term alcohol use (i.e., as low as one or two drinks per day) can lead to many types of cancers (mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, breast, colon and rectum). It can also lead to other serious health conditions such as seizures, pancreatitis, low birth weight, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), stroke, irregular heartbeat, liver cirrhosis and high blood pressure, mental health issues and alcohol dependence.

The short-term risks during or after a specific drinking occasion include an increased risk of injuries associated with motor vehicle crashes or abusive or violent behavior, as well as other harms such as alcohol poisoning.

In order to reduce long-term health risks from drinking alcohol, the Canadian LRDG recommends drinking no more than: 

  • 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day most days
  • 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days

In addition, plan non-drinking days every week to avoid developing a habit.

Over 1,000 Simcoe Muskoka adults (19 years and older) were asked questions about the Canadian LRDG as part of the 2017 Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS). Among all Simcoe Muskoka adults of legal drinking age (19 years and older), only 16% (13.7%, 18.7%) reported hearing about the Canadian LRDG; however, 47% (43.2%, 50.4%) of current drinkers of alcohol said that they would change the amount of alcohol they drink if the LRDG said they should. Also from RRFSS (2013), 55% (48.0%, 61.1%) of adult current drinkers in Simcoe Muskoka said that labeling bottles of alcohol with the Canadian LRDG would help them follow the guidelines.

Historical Trends

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), since 2000/01 the proportion of adults ages 19+ that exceeded the LRDG for the prevention of chronic diseases (i.e. long-term health risks) in Simcoe Muskoka has been consistently above the provincial average; however, the prevalence of heavy drinking both locally and provincially has remained relatively stable over this time period.

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Due to changes implemented in the CCHS beginning in 2015, comparisons of the 2015-2016 data should NOT be made to results from previous years.

Current Prevalence

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) in 2015/16, 28% (24.4%, 31.8%) of adults ages 19 years and older reported drinking alcohol in excess of the low risk drinking guidelines for the prevention of chronic diseases.  This was significantly higher than the comparable provincial average of 20% (19.7%, 21.3%).

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By Sex

In 2015/16, 33% (27.0%, 39.2%) of Simcoe Muskoka men exceeded the LRDG compared to 23% (18.4%, 29.60) of women. This was consistent with the pattern observed with the Ontario-level data; however, drinking in excess of the LRDG was significantly higher in Simcoe Muskoka when compared with the provincial average for both males and females.

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By Age Group

Drinking in excess of the Canadian LRDG decreases with age. A significantly higher percentage of Simcoe Muskoka adults (45 to 64 years) drank in excess of the LRDG in 2015-2016, when compared to provincial average.

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By Income

In both Simcoe Muskoka and Ontario as whole in 2015/16, drinking in excess of the Canadian LRDG increased significantly with higher levels of household income. Drinking in excess of the LRDG was significantly higher in Simcoe Muskoka among adults living in both the lowest and highest income groups. 

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