Alcohol-related ER visits by women and youth on the rise

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In Ontario, the rate of alcohol-related ER visits spiked by 175 per cent among individuals aged 25 to 29.

Over the study period, the rate of alcohol-related ER visits by women rose 86.5 per cent.

Alcohol-related health problems are making up a larger percentage of visits by women and young people, a new study suggests.

Experts believe that the problem of alcohol abuse is getting more prevalent and widespread.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on Monday, looked at patterns in alcohol-related ER visits in Ontario between 2003 and 2016.

Using diagnostic codes, they found conditions caused by alcohol use _ including acute intoxication, alcohol dependence and withdrawal and alcoholic liver disease — were listed as a main or contributing factor in 765,346 ER visits.

The number of alcohol-related ER visits climbed by an annual average of seven per cent over the 14-year period, increasing at 4.4 times the rate of ER visits overall, the study suggests.

The lead on the study has cautioned that these numbers don’t account for long-term health hazards, accidents and “second-hand” harm to others, such as violence.

The rate of alcohol-related ER visits spiked by 175 per cent among individuals aged 25 to 29, and the change was even more pronounced among young women in the cohort, who saw an increase of 240 per cent, researchers said.

This gender shift was also apparent in ER visits related to underage drinking, with the rates for women below the age of 19 exceeding those of their male peers since 2007, according to the study.

Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information suggests the rate of women dying from causes directly linked to alcohol rose by 26 per cent between 2001 and 2016-2017, compared to a five per cent increase among men.

According to the research regulations limiting the availability of alcohol can reduce the harms of substance use, but the leads on this study have targeted the Ontario government that has opened the door to beer and wine being sold in corner stores.

Along with promising to expand beer and wine sales, the Progressive Conservative government has loosened rules around alcohol consumption in the province in their spring budget.

Ontario will now allow bars, restaurants, and golf courses to start serving alcohol at 9 a.m., seven days a week, and is promising consultations on a further increase in hours of services in the future.

The government will also let municipalities establish rules about where booze can be consumed in public, such as in some parks. Regulations are also changing to allow tailgating parties near sports events across the province.

However there needs to be a study or rather several studies on the effect of legalizing cannabis and the rise in the number of young people getting high.

It is highly doubtful that restricting the sale of alcohol to LCBOs and Beer Stores will be the solution to problem drinking among youth and women. Perhaps the problem isn’t the availability but other reasons like stress and depression that is prompting more people to abuse alcohol. -CINEWS

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