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Rethink Your Drinking – raising awareness about alcohol and health in Ontario

June 15, 2016

During the recent consultation for a provincial alcohol strategy in Ontario, there was much discussion about the merits of a centralized, provincially coordinated education and awareness campaign. Each time this idea was voiced, there seemed to be a great deal of support for using the “Rethink Your Drinking” campaign as a model to base a province wide campaign upon.

Rethink Your Drinking (RYD) is a collaborative alcohol awareness campaign led by nine Health Units in Southwestern Ontario. The campaign was derived as a way to address the Accountability Indicator from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care regarding the percentage of adults exceeding the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines.

The campaign encourages males and females aged 25 to 44 years that drink, to rethink the way they drink. The basic premise of this campaign is that when you drink everything matters -excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect many aspects of life including physical, mental and social wellbeing.

A recent survey, conducted by Perth District Health Unit, showed that 64% of Public Health Units in Ontario had promoted the campaign. Of those who promoted the campaign, 91% felt that Rethink Your Drinking was a useful resource in promoting awareness of alcohol-related harm and all Health Units felt that the campaign was useful for promoting the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines. Among the Health Units not actively promoting the campaign, almost 60% expressed interest in adopting RYD as a province wide initiative.

While education and awareness are only one component of a comprehensive health promotion strategy, RYD may have the inside track should the province decide to implement a provincial awareness campaign. Regardless of the outcome, we know Ontarians have a long way to go in terms of awareness of the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines, including the definition of what a standard drink is.

For the full survey report, please click on the following link:

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