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

BREAKING: Reported stabbing at Killer Cove in Harrison

Police chase ran through Agassiz, witnesses say

29-year-old killed in ATV accident on forest service road outside Hope

Jonathan Mayers passed away after an accident up a forest service road past Union Bar Road

UPDATE: Sts’ailes FSR Fire ‘being held’ at 12 hectares

Status changed from ‘out of control’ on Wednesday afternoon

RCMP charge Langley man in connection with boat collision on Cultus Lake

A 67-year-old man allegedly operated a motor boat that collided with a woman paddling a canoe

B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

Fraser Valley Bandits clinch first round bye with win

Bandits defeat Guelph 84-70, advance to the CEBL semifinals on Saturday

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Maple Ridge firefighting camp empowers young women

Camp Ignite to take place at Justice Institute on Sunday, Aug. 9

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Most Read