Volume 95, Issue 55

Thursday, January 10, 2002
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The Gazette's ultimate guide to addictions

Smoking - what a drag

Mmmm... Coffeeeee

Don't gamble away your life savings

I love Magnum P.I.

Don't get too pumped

Marajuana is not addictive

The myth of the bottomless mug

New Year's resolutions

The myth of the bottomless mug

The day you turned 19 may conjure up wonderful, nauseous images of severe alcohol abuse. For some, the party never ends.

Alcohol use can become a serious problem for individuals at various levels of use, said Ari Bratt, youth outreach supervisor at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

"It is important to determine if it is interfering with your life. Ask yourself: Am I drinking to manage stress? What are my relationships with friends and family like? Am I violent when drunk? Are there conflicts with the law?," he said.

By a vast majority, alcohol is the most widely used drug by any age group. Among university students in Ontario, 87 per cent reported having at least one drink in the last year, Bratt said.

In the Canadian Campus Survey conducted in April 2000, 63 per cent of students reported binge drinking (five or more drinks) at least once in the last three months. Four per cent of students drank four times per week and 12 per cent of those students fell under the guidelines of low risk alcohol addiction.

The guidelines for low risk alcohol addiction vary between the sexes. For women, it consists of nine standard-size drinks per week, but for men, it is 14 standard drinks. Despite this difference, men are more likely to develop at risk drinking patterns.

A large increase in alcohol use among high school students has appeared over the last two decades, especially in terms of binge drinking, he explained, adding this is the most dramatic change across any age group.

Assistance is available for alcohol abusers. Not all help programs demand abstinence, which is a common misconception, explained Bratt. The Ontario Drug and Alcohol Registry of Treatment offers a variety of agencies and a variety of counselling techniques.

For example, some offer a harm reduction model that simply reduces drinking and may be more effective for younger people.

Bratt said some studies have shown one drink a day every other day can have a positive health impact on an individual, but it is important to watch personal levels of consumption.

-Lindsay Satterthwaite

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