Alcohol: Community Trends and Impacts


“Alcohol and tobacco use contributed 89% of the 277,060 hospital admissions and 76% of the 751,356 years of life lost due to substance use in 2017. Policies around alcohol in particular have been relaxed during the COVID-19 pandemic with evidence of increased consumption.”
Dr. Tim Stockwell, of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research

We were pleased to work in collaboration with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) on this virtual event* featuring discussion on alcohol use patterns and harm reduction in British Columbia. This page includes additional resources to read and download after viewing on-demand sessions. Topics include harm reduction and overdose; peer support, healthcare guidance regarding alcohol use; research; and what was in the news around the time we presented the event. Sessions recorded December 2, 2020.

At this event we discussed alcohol use trends over time, and the effects of alcohol use in BC communities, including insight into the socially sanctioned and promoted use of alcohol; the weaving of alcohol into everyday life; and the rise of managed alcohol programs as intervention to reduce harms related to high risk drinking, severe alcohol dependence, homelessness and poverty.


Session 1: Alcohol in Community: Cost and Impact overview Dr. Adam Sherk, CISUR

Presentation slides


Session 2: Managed Alcohol Programs (MAPs) discussion Dr. Bernie Pauly, CISUR

Presentation slides


Session 3: Alcohol Harm Reduction Panel Moderator: Brittany Graham, Illicit Alcohol Program Coordinator (EIDGE Program) / CISUR


  • Michelle W – PHS, Drinkers Lounge and Community MAP
  • Dr. Adam Sherk, CISUR
  • Dr. Bernie Pauly, CISUR
  • Dr. Kiffer Card, CISUR/ Community Based Research Centre (CBRC)
  • Meaghan Brown, CISUR

Presentation slides



Additional Resources

Harm Reduction and Overdose


Harm Reduction Strategies for Alcohol Use, Here to Help


Safer Drinking: Beer, wine and spirits, Here to Help


Safer Drinking Guide During COVID 19, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research


Alcohol overdose awareness, Toward the Heart


Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction


The High Life
Health Initiative for Men and YouthCO have teamed up to bring you the High Life – a resource for men who have sex with men about club and party drugs. Alcohol and marijuana are the most commonly used substances by gay men in Vancouver; more than 70 percent of gay men have used alcohol before sex in the last six months.


Watch: Wasted (documentary; 44 minutes)
Follow psychotherapist and alcoholic-in-recovery Mike Pond as he discovers the best new evidence-based addiction research and treatment. Re-examining the meaning of sober.


Let’s de-normalize alcohol consumption in nonprofit, and let’s be more considerate of colleagues who don’t drink
A culure of drinking is ingrained in our non-profit world. Galas and other events are often saturated with booze. Drinking is often core to our hangouts. Considering how so many of us are so thoughtful of others in so many ways, this is an area I hope we can improve on.
Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service in BC
1 (800) 663-1441 or (604) 660-9382
Health Link BC (Dial 8-1-1)



Peer support

Sober Babes: For women, non-binary people & members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community in “Vancouver” who are sober, sober curious, or want to drink less alcohol


Moderation Management (goal of moderation or abstinence): “Moderation Management is dedicated to reducing the harm caused by the misuse of alcohol. MM is a behavioral change program broken into a number of steps in order to build confidence in maintaining a path, whether moderation or abstinence.”


SMART Self-Management And Recovery Training (goal of abstinence): “In SMART we focus on learning coping skills that work well short- and long-term. We base our ideas on what addiction science has shown to be effective. We have adapted these ideas into SMART’s tools for change.”


Alcoholics Anonymous (goal of abstinence): “The twelve steps of AA are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.”



Healthcare Guidance Regarding Alcohol Use


Alcohol Use Disorder Guidance, BC Centre on Substance Use


Operational Guidance for Implementation of Managed Alcohol for Vulnerable Populations, BC Centre on Substance Use (September 2020)


BC ECHO on Substance Use – Alcohol Use Disorder
The BC ECHO on Substance Use – Alcohol Use Disorder (Alcohol Use Disorder ECHO) series is part of the larger BC ECHO on Substance Use, a virtual community of practice that aims to help primary care teams build competency in the management of substance use disorders. It’s designed to support primary care providers and their teams to implement evidence-based approaches to the clinical management of AUD in accordance with current provincial guidelines.


Addiction Care and Treatment Online Certificate
The Addiction Care and Treatment Online Certificate is a free online certificate course offered through the BC Centre on Substance Use. It is targeted at health care professionals interested in learning more about providing care to patients with various substance use disorders, including alcohol, tobacco, stimulants, cannabis, and opioids.


Helping Schools
Substance use education resources from the Canadian Institute on Substance Use Research


Alcohol and Calories
The average Canadian consumes 11% of their recommended calorie intake in alcohol, and related information from the Canadian Institute on Substance Use Research





Facts and stats on alcohol consumption, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR)


Featured and Active Research at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research


The Canadian Managed Alcohol Program Study (CMAPS)


Rapid Synthesis: Determining the Features of Managed Alcohol Programs, McMaster University
A rapid synthesis summarizes research evidence drawn from systematic reviews of the research literature and occasionally from single research studies.


Does Drinking Within Low-Risk Guidelines Prevent Harm? Implications for High-Income Countries Using the International Model of Alcohol Harms and Policies


How do people with homelessness and alcohol dependence cope when alcohol is unaffordable? A comparison of residents of Canadian managed alcohol programs and locally recruited controls


Alcohol Harm in Canada: Examining Hospitalizations Entirely Caused by Alcohol and Strategies to Reduce Alcohol Harm, Canadian Institute for Health Information


Alcohol Management Screening Tool, Government of Northwest Territories


Alcohol Strategies

Example of a provincial Alcohol Strategy, Alberta


Building an alcohol strategy – What should NWT’s alcohol strategy include?
The territory started working on an alcohol strategy in the spring — after the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research from the University of Victoria gave the NWT’s alcohol policies some of the worst grades in the country.


Reducing Alcohol-Related Harms and Costs in Northwest Territories: A Policy Review


Alcohol Problems in Native America: The Untold Story of Resistance and Recovery – The Truth About the Lie by Don L. Coyhis and William L. White.


Trajectories of Alcohol Use and Related Harms for Managed Alcohol Program Participants over 12 Months Compared with Local Controls: A Quasi-Experimental Study
The aim of this study (published January 2021) was to investigate changes in alcohol use and related harm using the first multisite, controlled, longitudinal study of Managed Alcohol Programs (MAPs). MAPs provide regular doses of alcohol, accommodation, social supports and healthcare to unstably housed people with alcohol dependence.


In the News


CBC Early Edition series

Alcohol consumption up during pandemic leaving substance abuse experts worried November 16, 2020

Parental Guidance: why parents should think long and hard before hitting the bottle to cope with pandemic, November 17, 2020

Pandemic has changed our relationship with alcohol, November 18, 2020


Give More Chronic Drinkers Safe Doses of Alcohol, Say Researchers, The Tyee


Minimum alcohol pricing could reduce alcohol-linked deaths in Canada, New Scientist



* Didn’t get a chance to attend – Hep C in Focus in July? It was also dedicated to community connections, learning, and resources. Check it out.

For more information, contact Janet Madsen, [email protected]

We greatly appreciate the vision of our government funders and their ongoing commitment to supporting the work of PAN. In particular we gratefully acknowledge the Public Health Agency of Canada – HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.


All hands Image by bridgesward from Pixabay; bottles image by Thanh Serious on Unsplash