Alcoholism costs Canadians $15 billion a year, and that’s just the financial cost, say Manitoba experts

Several bottles of wine and spirits. Pixabay

The cost of alcoholism can be much more than a financial one.

Throughout 680 CJOB’s investigation on the dark side of alcohol, experts in law enforcement, addiction, medicine, and beyond have all talked about the social costs of alcohol abuse.

According to Winnipeg police, alcohol abuse might be the ‘most taxing and common issue’ cops face on a daily basis.

“When our call volumes spike, we look back on what happens, and whether it’s Christmas or a long weekend … it’s always the key,” police Cst. Rob Carver told 680 CJOB.

“Alcohol abuse is right there.

“It is, without question, the key factor that turns … a potential problem in a domestic situation into a violent one.”

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Alan Katz, director of the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, said that potential for violence has a huge social impact in terms of hospitalization and the toll on the medical field.

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“The impact is huge in terms of hospitalization, visits to emergency rooms, children in care, domestic abuse,” said Katz.

“The risk associated with those things, with people who were diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder or those who weren’t… it’s two, three times the rate.”

The Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM) says alcohol has moved into the unenviable position as Canada’s worst substance.

A report released in 2018 by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research estimated alcohol cost Canadians almost $15 billion per year in terms of lost productivity, justice costs, and more.

“You think, ‘Oh my gosh, we have this opioid crisis, we have this meth crisis,” said AFM’s Dr. Sherri Fandrey.

“Seventy per cent of the costs to our Canadian society (are caused by) alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol recently overtook tobacco as the most costly, the most harmful substance we have in Canada.”

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