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» Group A - Population Health
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 –  Youth Heavy Drinking
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     Outbreaks in Long-Term
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 –  Chlamydia Incidence
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 –  Immunization Coverage of
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» Group B - Governance and
   Accountability Indicators
Case Studies
Supporting Documents
Initial Report on Public Health
Youth Heavy Drinking
Narrative

The youth heavy drinking episode indicator identifies the proportion of people age 12-19 years who reported consuming five or more drinks on at least one occasion during the previous 12 months.

Research shows that young people, whose brains are still developing, may be at greater risk than mature adults of lasting brain damage from heavy alcohol consumption. 62 Alcohol is the most commonly used drug among Canada’s youth. 63 Alcohol-related trauma is a significant and preventable cause of death among young Canadians. 64, 65, 66

Research indicates that youth view heavy drinking as a social norm and that the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption are a ‘rite of passage.’ This view is highlighted by the fact that while illicit drug use has generally been declining, the prevalence of heavy drinking has been holding steady and even increasing, particularly among youth aged 15 to 25. 67, 68 Moreover, new studies show that some youth start drinking at age 13 or younger. 69

Heavy drinking is associated with risk taking behaviour. Risks and consequences associated with heavy drinking include death, injury, violence, alcohol poisoning, unplanned and unwanted sexual experiences including sexual assault and sexually transmitted infections. 70 Prolonged heavy drinking may result in brain damage, liver disease, cancer or heart disease. 71

Although most health consequences of alcohol and drug use typically appear later in life, early initiation of heavy drinking can lead to earlier problems and the development of life-long habits.

Public health programs and services aim to increase public awareness of the dangers of substance misuse and promote healthy public policy to reduce these risks. Programs and services include:

  • promoting the Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines designed to minimize the health risks of alcohol use
  • promoting responsible driving including not driving under the influence of alcohol
  • advising women who know they are pregnant or are planning on becoming pregnant of the harmful effects of alcohol on their unborn child
  • promoting adoption of municipal alcohol policies
  • providing Server Intervention Training and promoting Safe Bar Policy
  • promoting responsible hosting

Interventions to address youth heavy drinking are given additional prominence before and during events such as high school proms where a single episode of binge drinking can have severe health effects. More broadly though, interventions with youth promote adoption of behaviours to minimize health risks and reduce under-age drinking.

In 2007, 25% of people in Ontario age 12-19 years reported consuming at least five or more drinks on at least one occasion in the previous 12 months. Based on 36 public health units in Ontario, the highest proportion of heavy drinkers was 65% and the lowest was 12% for people age 12-19 years who reported consuming five or more drinks on at least one occasion.

Indicator Definition

Definition:

The youth heavy drinking episode indicator identifies the proportion of people age 12-19 years who reported consuming five or more drinks on at least one occasion during the previous 12 months.

Data Source(s):

Numerator: Canadian Community Health Survey 2007, Statistics Canada, Ontario Share File distributed by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Denominator: Canadian Community Health Survey 2007, Statistics Canada, Ontario Share File distributed by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Formula:

Weighted number of respondents age 12-19 years who reported consuming 5 or more drinks on at least one occasion during the previous 12 months

Weighted number of respondents age 12-19 years who did or did not drink
 
x 100

Notes:

  • Numerator: ALC_3=Less than once per month(2), Once per month(3), 2-3 times per month(4), Once per week(5), More than once per week (6)
  • Denominator: ALC_1= Yes (1) No (2)
  • Don't Know (97), Refusal (98), Not Stated (99) responses were excluded

62 Tapert SF, Caldwell L, Burke C. Alcohol and the adolescent brain: human studies. Alcohol Res Health. 2004-2005;28(4):205-212. Retrieved April 20, 2009 from: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh284/205-212.pdf.
63 Leslie K. Alcohol and drug use among teenagers. CMAJ. 2008 Jan 15;178(2):149. Retrieved April 20, 2009 from: http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/reprint/178/2/149.pdf.
64 Chamberlain EA, Solomon RM. Minimizing impairment-related youth traffic deaths: the need for comprehensive provincial action. Can J Public Health. 2008;99(4):267-70. Retrieved April 20, 2009 from: http://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/view/1657/1841.pdf.
65 Rehm J, Giesbrecht N, Patra J, Roerecke M. Estimating chronic disease deaths and hospitalizations due to alcohol use in Canada in 2002: Implications for policy and prevention strategies. Prev Chronic Dis. 2006;3(4):A121.
66 Rehm J, Patra J, Popova S. Alcohol-attributable mortality and potential years of life lost in Canada 2001: Implications for prevention and policy. Addiction. 2006;101(3):373-84.
67 Beck KH, Treiman KA. The relationship of social context of drinking, perceived social norms, and parental influence to various drinking patterns of adolescents. Addict Behav. 1996;21(5):633-44.
68 Pedersen ER, LaBrie JW. Normative misperceptions of drinking among college students: a look at the specific contexts of prepartying and drinking games. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2008;69(3):406-11.
69 Simons-Morton B. Prospective association of peer influence, school engagement, drinking expectancies, and parent expectations with drinking initiation among sixth graders. Addict Behav. 2004;29(2):299-309.
70 Miller JW, Naimi TS, Brewer RD, Jones SE. Binge drinking and associated health risk behaviors among high school students. Pediatrics. 2007;119(1):76-85.
71 World Helath Organization. Global status report on alcohol 2004. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2004. pp. 35-58. Retrieved April 23, 2009 from: http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/
globalstatusreportalcohol2004_healtheffects.pdf
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