Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Alcohol & Drugs

Low-Risk Drinking

Key Messages
Current Prevalence
By Sex
By Age Group
By Education and Deprivation
Historical Trends
Awareness of LRDG
Technical Notes

Key messages

  • Drinking alcohol in excess of the low-risk drinking guidelines (LRDG) for the prevention of chronic diseases is significantly higher in Simcoe Muskoka when compared with the province overall.
  • Approximately one-quarter of Simcoe Muskoka adults (19 years and older) reported drinking in excess of the LRDG.
  • Drinking in excess of the LRDG is highest among males and adults under the age of 65 years.
  • Awareness of the LRDG is low among Simcoe Muskoka adults (less than one-in-five reported hearing about them); however, nearly half of those surveyed said that they would change the amount of alcohol they drink to meet the LRDG.

Current Prevalence

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) in 2017/18, 26% (22.0%, 30.0%) 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% (18.7%, 20.5%). This was little changed from what was reported in the previous survey cycle (2015/16).

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By Sex

In 2017/18, 30% (23.4%, 37.6%) of Simcoe Muskoka men exceeded the LRDG compared to 22% (17.8%, 25.6%) 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 is lowest among seniors (65 years and older). A significantly higher percentage of Simcoe Muskoka adults (45 to 64 years) drank in excess of the LRDG in 2017-2018, when compared to provincial average.

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By Education and Deprivation

In 2017/18, significantly fewer Ontario adults (25 to 64 years of age) with a university degree or higher reported drinking in excess of the LRDG compared to those with lower levels of education; however, drinking in excess of the LRDG did not differ by highest level of education among Simcoe Muskoka adults (25 to 64 years).
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​Also in 2017/18 among Ontario adults (19+), drinking in excess of the LRDG was highest among those living in areas with the least amount of material deprivation (as measured by the 2016 Ontario Marginalized Index). This same pattern was not observed among the Simcoe Muskoka adult population.

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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.

Awareness of LRDG

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.

Technical Notes

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.

Page last updated December 19, 2022