Alcohol reduction – community strategies

Most Albertans use alcohol responsibly, but some are not always able to.1 Alcohol consumption increases the risk of many chronic diseases including certain types of cancer.2 Did you know that in 2012, approximately 620 cancer cases diagnosed in Alberta were linked to alcohol use?2

Responsible alcohol use is not only a matter of personal choice, it can also be positively influenced by our environments. 

When our communities implement multi-component community-wide interventions, they are better able to strengthen four action areas: the social environment, the physical environment, the economic environment and the policy environment. These action areas are supported by community leadership and learning from experience.

Multi-component community-wide interventions that create the conditions for responsible alcohol use might involve increasing the price of alcohol in the community, along with public awareness and education on the importance of drinking responsibly.

Although multi-component community-wide interventions are ideal, communities need to start where they are at! This may mean starting with one strategy, environment or setting and then building on it as you move towards thinking broadly about reducing alcohol misuse.

Ways to take action

All of the evidence-informed strategies are tried, tested and useful strategies that are based on current research. See the methods section for more information on how these strategies were developed.

Changing the social environment is about promoting positive social norms and attitudes around responsible alcohol use and building community awareness about the risks of alcohol misuse.

Plan and implement multi-component community-wide interventions. When communities work to change the social environment, it is important to do so in conjunction with changes to the physical, economic and policy environments. 

Modifying the physical environment to promote responsible alcohol use is about decreasing the availability and accessibility of alcohol in the community. 

Plan and implement multi-component community-wide interventions. When communities work to change the physical environment, it is important to do so in conjunction with changes to the social, economic and policy environments. 

Modifying the economic environment is about ensuring access for all community members to essential support services and implementing pricing strategies to decrease alcohol misuse.

Plan and implement multi-component community-wide interventions. When communities work to change the economic environment, it is important to do so in conjunction with changes to the social, physical and policy environments. 

Policy change is about developing policies to promote the responsible use of alcohol and address alcohol misuse.3-5

Plan and implement multi-component community-wide interventions. When communities work to change the policy environment, it is important to do so in conjunction with changes to the social, physical and economic environments. 

  1. Alberta Health Services (AHS). Alcohol and health: alcohol and Alberta. Alberta: AHS; 2015. Available from: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/hp/edu/if-hp-edu-amh-alcohol-and-alberta.pdf.
  2. Alberta Health Services (AHS). Cancer numbers tool. Edmonton (AB): AHS; 2018. Available from: http://www.albertapreventscancer.ca/alberta-prevention-data/cancer-numbers-tool/.
  3. Albanese S, Bryson J. Let's start a conversation about alcohol in our community: report on alcohol use, harms and potential actions in Thunder Bay District. Thunder Bay (ON): Thunder Bay District Health Unit; 2015. Available from: http://www.tbdhu.com/sites/default/files/files/resource/2016-10/Community%20Report%20on%20Alcohol.pdf.
  4. World Health Organization (WHO). Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. Geneva (SW): WHO; 2010. Available from: http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/activities/gsrhua/en/.
  5. Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC), Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Health Canada. Reducing alcohol-related harm in Canada: toward a culture of moderation. Ottawa (ON): National Alcohol Strategy Working Group; 2007. Available from: http://www.ccsa.ca/Resource%20Library/ccsa-023876-2007.pdf.
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