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  

Just Posted

Man ‘seriously’ injured in crash after driving wrong way on Highway 17: Surrey RCMP

Police say the sedan hit a transport truck, then another car

Easter ‘eggstravaganza’ event planned for South Surrey

Event is to run from 12-3 p.m. at Dufferin Park (17355 2 Ave.).

Update: Surrey Mounties found missing man

Kuldip Sandhu, 41, had been reported missing

IHIT hunting in Edmonton for clues to 2017 Surrey homicide

Tanner Krupa, 19 was found dead in an alley in August 2017, in the 6900-block of 127A Street

Langley police seek new leads in hit and run cold case

Six years ago, someone struck a young woman with a car and drove off

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Rare ‘Snow Tower’ tree blooming in Vancouver city park

A plant rarely grown in Canada is now flowering at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Man airlifted to hospital after apparent hunting incident in East Kootenay

The man was in stable condition when he was flown out of Fairmont Hot Springs to a Calgary hospital

Most Read