Canada’s low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines among post-secondary students

In brief

In 2013, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) released Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines to help Canadians moderate their alcohol consumption and reduce their immediate and long-term alcohol-related harms. Subsequently, researchers in Sudbury released the results of the Campus Alcohol Behaviour Survey, conducted to:

  • look at trends in alcohol use among college and university students in the City of Greater Sudbury;
  • determine their levels of awareness about the LRADG
  • identify best practice strategies to prevent high-risk drinking and encourage responsible drinking for this group.

In this Research Report Round-up, we provide a summary of the findings. Research Report Round-ups are brief summaries of research reports, presented in a user-friendly format.

Title and link to the report: Canada’s low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines among post-secondary students 

Authors: V. Charbonneau, A.P. Gauthier, J. Martel, D.J. Urajnik, J. Dénommé, S. Laclé, M. Lefebvre, D. Malaviarachchi, I. Michel, and N. Thistle, Laurentian University in Collaboration with the Sudbury and District Health Unit 

Year: 2014

Location: Sudbury

Type of study: Survey

Population: Post-secondary students 

Keywords: Alcohol, Guidelines, Post-Secondary Students, Northern Ontario 

Contact person/source: Alain P. Gauthier, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Human Kinetics, Laurentian University, agauthier [at] laurentian [dot] ca; Joëlle Martel, Health Promoter, Sudbury & District Health Unit, martelj [at] sdhu [dot] com 

Language : English

The results

All students (~15000) at the three post-secondary institutions in the City of Greater Sudbury (Laurentian University, Cambrian College and Collège Boréal) received the survey via their student email account in the fall of 2013.  A total of 1,829 students completed the survey. Some of the results: 

  • 92% said they drank in the previous 12 months.
  • 46% exceeded at least one of the guidelines in the previous year.  
  • Males between the ages of 19 and 24, as well as those living in residence, were most likely to exceed any one of the guidelines.
  • Only 15% had seen or heard of the drinking guidelines.  Those who were aware of them were more likely to drink moderately.
  • Approximately 82% were interested in receiving health-related information or advice, preferably electronically. 

These results show that most post-secondary students in Greater Sudbury are not aware of and don’t always follow the drinking guidelines. Efforts should be made to encourage responsible drinking in this group.

This report also provides a list of recommendations for students, administrators and health promoters tailored to the needs of post-secondary students: 

  • Student leaders can help promote awareness of the risks and harms of heavy drinking and influence social norms around drinking.
  • Administrators and decision-makers need to enforce all current alcohol laws and regulations. Harm-reduction strategies should also be implemented on campus.
  • Health promoters and educators should use the media and electronic means to communicate health promotion information and resources to students. 

How can this report be used

This report can help inform college and university campus programs designed to promote responsible drinking. It can also serve as a model to engage community partners and ensure that post-secondary institutions use evidence-informed public health practices. 

This Research Report Round-up was written by Amy Kuhn.