New guidelines for drinking alcohol prompt a range of reactions

Canadians have been advised to have no more than two more than alcoholic drinks a week according to a new report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released last week. Some community members at Algonquin College think the drop is extreme, while others say it’s not extreme enough. The recommended number dropped […]
Photo: Arty Sarkisian
“I feel like the number is so small," said Michaela Murphy, a first-year advertising student. "I feel like everybody has at least one drink a night. My parents have their glass of wine with dinner, a lot of adults do."

Canadians have been advised to have no more than two more than alcoholic drinks a week according to a new report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released last week.

Some community members at Algonquin College think the drop is extreme, while others say it’s not extreme enough.

The recommended number dropped from 15 drinks for men and 10 drinks per week for women.

“On any occasion, the risk of a negative acute outcome begins to increase with any consumption, and with more than two standard drinks, most individuals will have an increased risk of injuries or other problems,” the report by CCSA said.

Some were surprised to hear this new recommendation.

“Wow. And there also was an article that said that you should have a glass of red wine every day for your heart,” said Michaela Murphy, a first-year advertising student at Algonquin College.

“I feel like the number is so small. I feel like everybody has at least one drink a night. My parents have their glass of wine with dinner, a lot of adults do, at least on my side of the family.”

Murphy once drank 10 shots in 20 minutes, which under new recommendations is more than a monthly amount.

On the other hand, Omalie Buteau, a first-year bachelor of public safety student, thinks the recommended number should be even lower.

“One drink a month,” she said. “I think if we are talking about the health care system and what they are recommending, their recommendations should be incredibly low.”

The CCSA believes the number should be lower, but they didn’t want to “piss people off,” Buteau said.

Antonios Vitaliotis, professor of bartending at Algonquin College, agrees.

“It’s the lowest they could have dropped it, because if they went any further, maybe a lot of people would have seen this as a joke,” Vitaliotis said. “But the lower you put it, the better it is for the general public.”

Vitaliotis grew up in Greece, where wine was an essential part of the meal. “I was nine years old, and I was allowed to go to the corner store and pick up alcohol for dinner,” he said.

Wine was seen as an addition to food, not as a way to get drunk, according to Vitaliotis.

In Vitaliotis’ family, they would add something like Sprite or Pepsi to a drink just to water it down. “They never wanted something that’s strong,” he said.

Because of this background, Vitaliotis thinks his perspective is different from that of Canadian students.

“They grew up with somebody holding them back until the age of 19 and then suddenly opening the floodgates and saying ‘go ahead,'” he said.

Eighty-four percent of young adults have consumed alcohol in 12 months, which is eight percent higher than the percentage among all Canadians, according to Canadian Alcohol and Drugs Survey for 2019.

“College is the only place where it is socially acceptable to be an alcoholic,” said Oniqua Kamaka, a third-year human resources student working at the Student Peer Support at Algonquin College.

Even with high media attention few believe that the new recommendations will lead to an instant drop in alcohol usage.

“Every change takes time,” Vitaliotis said. “Alcohol is a depressant. And if not moderated, it creates monsters.”

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