As the smoke clears from the debate over the decriminalization of marijuana use, Canadians will soon find ourselves talking about the pros and cons of another widely used drug that’s been here with us, legal, celebrated and toasted, all along: alcohol.
Because there’s a building movement among public health organizations, including Ottawa Public Health, to dramatically change the discussion on booze and its social and health impacts.
It’s needed. I love craft beers, savour Californian merlots, and consider nursing a negroni a religious experience. This doesn’t change the fact that while other drugs are demonized, it’s alcohol in its many forms that’s causing the most personal, familial and societal damage across Canada.
The first place many of us will experience this new discussion is in our doctor’s office. New best-practice guidelines for GPs reframe the doctor-patient conversation on alcohol.
The old approach to booze and health was black and white: there were alcoholics and those who weren’t. It was insulting for your GP to raise the topic of your drinking – unless perhaps your liver was failing.
Now, the singular term “alcoholic” has been replaced by alcohol use disorders, ranging from teenage binge drinking to the parents’ nightly use of alcohol as “liquid therapy.”