Adam Sherk, a Uvic PhD candidate, lead the development of InterMAHP. (Uvic/Jonathan Woods)

Substance use costs Canadians $38 billion per year

B.C. university researcher leading a program on true cost of alcohol health problems

Researchers have often wondered about the true cost of alcohol.

This goes far beyond how much your favourite bottle or can costs at the local liquor store; it includes the health costs of alcohol-related diseases and hospitalizations. Calculating these costs has not been easy, but that has changed with the creation of a new methodology program called the International Model of Alcohol Harms and Policies (InterMAHP), a development led by University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research PhD candidate Adam Sherk.

“There’s nothing like it, it’s novel for sure,” Sherk said. “We’re doing projects globally and nationally.”

In simple terms, researchers can upload different data sets such as those related to geography, health, and economic consumption and InterMAHP can translate that into a cleaner data set that will allow researchers to find connections and draw conclusions to the results.

ALSO READ: Alcohol consumption on the rise on Vancouver Island

“For example, look at liver cirrhosis,” Sherk said,“Say there’s 100 deaths by liver cirrhosis in BC; we know alcohol is linked to it but people who don’t drink also die of it, so we need a way to upload data and determine costs and likelihoods.”

Once all data sets for this scenario are uploaded, subgroups such as age, gender, and location can be better organized and analyzed.

Recently InterMAHP was used by the Canadian Substance Use Costs and Harms Scientific Working Group to find that annual substance use costs Canadians more than $38 billion dollars, with alcohol leading the way at $14.7 billion, followed by tobacco ($12 billion) and opioids ($3.5 billion).

With these discoveries, Sherk said new policies are now being considered by the federal government, including setting a minimum price for alcohol, a strategy that was just put in place in Scotland.

ALSO READ: Statistics predict Vancouver Island residents will drink more than 12 litres of alcohol in 2020

InterMAHP has also been used by the World Health Organization, and was recently presented in part of a WHO workshop in Moscow, after it calculated that alcohol intake in the European region is highest in the world, with over 10 percent of all deaths being caused by alcohol.

Sherk has most recently used the program to determine the dietary effects of alcohol. His study is currently under review for publication, and found that on average people who drink get 11 per cent of their recommended daily calories from alcohol.

“That’s 200 plus calories every single day,” Sherk said, adding that the biggest problem is a lack of nutritional data on alcoholic beverages. “Most people don’t really have any idea of how many calories they’re drinking.”

Sherk hopes that once his study is published, it could push for policy changes on nutritional information for alcoholic beverages.

For more information on InterMAHP you can head to uvic.ca

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

CISURUVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford author releases book of poetry and meditations

Sophia Campbell’s Hark Valley a depiction of her ‘spiritual journey’

Man wanted for ramming police car and almost hitting bystanders in Abbotsford

Police say Lorne Guilbault ‘engages in high-risk criminal driving behaviour’

Lavender hand sanitizer sale raises cash for Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Golf course and lavender farm partner up to support health care in the Fraser Valley

Cooling stations to open in Mission

Once the temperature hits 29 degrees Celsius, the stations will open

‘Unusual smell’ in Mission and Abbotsford tap water not a health concern, says City of Abbotsford

Odour is just due to temporary supply switch due to treatment-plant maintenance, city says

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

BCSPCA partners with Crime Stoppers

Many call in to the SPCA, but want to remain anonymous: Eccles

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read