The Province - - ADVERTISMENT - Julie Bor­tolotti, Cana­dian In­sti­tute for Health In­for­ma­tion

Pro­vin­cial hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rates dis­closed.

S um­mer is al­most over, and for many Cana­di­ans it’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine a long week­end with­out al­co­hol. For many young Cana­di­ans start­ing col­lege and univer­sity this month, their ex­pe­ri­ence will start with par­ty­ing dur­ing Frosh Week. The risks as­so­ci­ated with over­drink­ing can come with se­ri­ous con­se­quences. To gain an un­der­stand­ing of some of these risks, the Cana­dian In­sti­tute for Health In­for­ma­tion (CIHI) re­leased a re­port that ex­am­ines hos­pi­tal­iza­tions en­tirely caused by al­co­hol.

Al­co­hol Harm in Canada: Ex­am­in­ing Hos­pi­tal­iza­tions En­tirely Caused by Al­co­hol and Strate­gies to Re­duce Al­co­hol Harm found that last year there were more than 77,000 hos­pi­tal­iza­tions for harms en­tirely caused by al­co­hol, such as al­co­hol poi­son­ing, al­co­hol with­drawal, or liver dis­ease.

Hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rates var­ied across Canada

Hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rates var­ied con­sid­er­ably across Canada in 2015-2016. The east­ern prov­inces gen­er­ally had lower rates of hos­pi­tal­iza­tion than those in the west, while the ter­ri­to­ries had higher hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rates than the prov­inces on av­er­age. There were sub­stan­tial vari­a­tions within prov­inces, with higher rates in sev­eral north­ern and re­mote re­gions.

Bri­tish Columbia had the high­est pro­vin­cial rate at 349 hos­pi­tal­iza­tions per 100,000 pop­u­la­tion, com­pared to the av­er­age of 239 per 100,000 across Canada.BC also saw strong vari­a­tions across the Health Au­thor­i­ties.

There were also sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences in al­co­hol sales and heavy drink­ing rates across the coun­try. Heavy drink­ing means five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women at one time, at least once a month over a one-year pe­riod.

Over­all, males had higher heavy drink­ing and hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rates than fe­males. How­ever, among chil­dren and youth ages 10 to 19, girls had higher rates of hos­pi­tal­iza­tion than boys.

Al­most three out of four al­co­hol-re­lated hos­pi­tal­iza­tions were linked to con­di­tions re­lated to men­tal health and ad­dic­tions. Ex­am­ples in­clude chronic al­co­hol use dis­or­der, al­co­hol with­drawal, and al­co­hol in­tox­i­ca­tion.

A com­pli­cated is­sue

“The sheer com­plex­ity of the is­sue of al­co­hol harm, along with the mag­ni­tude of harm, is sur­pris­ing,” says Dana Ri­ley, pro­gram lead for the Cana­dian Pop­u­la­tion Health Ini­tia­tive at CIHI. “For ex­am­ple, there are more hos­pi­tal­iza­tions for harms en­tirely caused by al­co­hol than for heart at­tacks in Canada, and this is re­ally only the tip of the ice­berg.”

The new in­di­ca­tor is fo­cused on hos­pi­tal­iza­tions en­tirely caused by al­co­hol and does not in­clude peo­ple who visit the emer­gency depart­ment who are not ad­mit­ted to the hospi­tal.The whole pic­ture of al­co­hol harm is likely much larger than the num­bers found in the re­port.

CIHI de­vel­ops re­ports to draw at­ten­tion to health is­sues that af­fect all Cana­di­ans. By ex­plor­ing the com­plex­i­ties be­hind al­co­hol harm and the re­gional vari­a­tions, this re­port aims to help re­duce hos­pi­tal­iza­tions en­tirely caused by al­co­hol and en­cour­age Cana­di­ans to make in­formed de­ci­sions about con­sum­ing al­co­hol.

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