Choose Well

Reducing the harmful use of alcohol is one of five strategic action areas for health promotion in PEI. Alcohol is closely linked to a range of preventable diseases, including several types of cancer (e.g., liver, breast, colorectal), liver disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, along with preventable injuries and community harms, such as interpersonal, domestic and family violence and motor vehicle accidents.

Despite its close connection to various health and social risks, alcohol consumption in PEI remains prevalent. In 2020/2021, Island residents 15 years and older consumed the equivalent of 475 standard drinks of alcohol per person per year. In 2019, almost 1 in 5 Islanders (19%) drank above the low-risk weekly limits in Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. Island males (compared to females) and young adults (18-34 years of age) are more likely to report heavy drinking in PEI. In 2022, 50% of PEI students (grades 7-12) reported using alcohol in the last 12 months, with 25% of students reporting that they binge drank (5 or more drinks per occasion). In 2019, PEI had the highest rate of impaired driving compared to other provinces. Notably, alcohol sales increased during and post- the COVID pandemic, despite a lower number of non-Island residents visiting the PEI. Alcohol is also often used in combination with other substances (e.g., cannabis, opioids) and increases the risk of harm.

The harmful use of alcohol carries significant economic costs. Compared to other substances (e.g., tobacco, illicit substances, and opioids), alcohol-related harms are the leading cost of substance-use-related harms in PEI. Alcohol-related harms cost PEI $131 million in healthcare and criminal justice costs, lost productivity and other direct costs (47% of the total costs of substance-related harms), and cause almost 7,000 emergency room visits and 135 deaths per year.

Preventing alcohol-related harms is an important area of health promotion that requires increased understanding and awareness, a prioritization of healthy public policy, and a shift in cultural norms.