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

Central Okanagan school trustees ponder future of Rutland Middle School

Planning and facilities committee to weigh in on frustrating lack of progress

Your guide to winter light ups around the Okanagan

From Vernon to Summerland, with a stop in Kelowna, we’ve found some activities for you to enjoy

Kelowna RCMP look for suspects of Rutland break-in

Police are looking for two suspects after man was found with blood on his hands and face

Work on revamp Rutland Transit Exchange in Kelowna now complete

The transit exchange and extension of Shepherd Road will open Saturday says city hall

Movie-making in Kelowna

Film crews will be shooting scenes around the city for a new movie until early December

Feds give formal notice for law to end Canada Post strike

Trudeau government ready to legislate employees back to work after five weeks of rotating strikes

Getzlaf lifts Ducks to 4-3 win over skidding Canucks

Vancouver now winless since Nov. 8

Pressure builds for B.C. to recognize physicians assistants

“We can make a difference and I think we’re being overlooked.”

Senators urge Trump to expedite congressional vote on USMCA

The 12 Republican senators are warning of the dangers of getting the trade pact approved in 2019

Okanagan College professors introduce e-textbooks to ease student costs

Okanagan College ranks sixth in the province for open textbook adoption.

Bill just one tool to deter foreign interference in Canadian elections: Gould

Bill C-76 is just one means to deter outside interference in Canadian elections

Investigation into B.C. legislature officers began in January

RCMP brought in months after former prison administrator started

Legal challenge filed over high-stakes competition to design $60B warships

The federal government had originally said it wanted a “mature design” for its new warship fleet, which was widely interpreted as meaning a vessel that has already been built and used by another navy.

‘There has to be accountability’: victims of sterilization demand action

Morningstar Mercredi says she woke up from a surgery at 14 and immediately broke down when she discovered the baby she once felt inside of her was gone.

Most Read