With all stresses (cost of living, housing issues, employment sector changing with algorithms and A.I. just to name a few) increasing exponentially the pressures on this next generation, plus the older, retired one, dealing with issues of loneliness or being a caregiver for a parent or spouse, there is no shortage of scenarios to cross the line from social drinking to needing a drink.

How do we speak, as a community, about the elephant in the room without pointing fingers or assigning blame?

I was born in a country where it was very common practice to send your child to pick up the bottle of wine at the local store and add a little water to a small glass of red liquid to give them a taste as they grew older. In France, wine is not only a cultural icon, but it is an accepted part of most meals. Do they have issues with some people drinking too much or drinking and driving? 

According to a 2013 article posted on the online French news website, The Local, the reputation of the French for drinking in moderation appears slightly misleading after a worrying report revealed that alcohol is responsible for around 49,000 deaths in France each year – around 134 each day. 

Catherine Hill, one of the authors of the report summed up the findings simply by saying “the French drink too much”.

The stats, based on the year 2009,  revealed that three times as many French men died as a result of an alcohol relate health problem than women.

The study, carried out by the Service for Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the Institue Gustave Roussy, near Paris found that around 36,500 French men die each year from alcohol-related illnesses, around 13 percent of the overall male mortality rate.

This is in contrast with the number of female alcohol-related deaths which stand at 12,500, which represents 5 percent of the overall total of female deaths.

Perhaps the most worrying trend the survey revealed was that 40 percent of those deaths were people under the age of 65.

 “Alcohol is an important cause of premature mortality as it is responsible for 22 percent (almost a quarter) of deaths between 15 and 34 years of age, 18 percent (almost one in five) of deaths between 35 and 64 and 7 percent of deaths of over-65s,” Hill told AFP.

“The causes of death attributable to alcohol are above all cancers (15,000) and cardio-vascular diseases (12,000),” the researcher added.

The remaining deaths included digestive illnesses such as cirrhosis, accidents, suicides and mental illnesses.  

Although the statistics may seem dire, French radio RTL reports that alcohol consumption has in fact decreased radically in the last 50 years. Back in 1994, the average Frenchman consumed 3.3 units of alcohol a day, three units in 2002 and 2003 and just 2.7 in 2009.        

However, when compared to the rest of Europe, it would appear France still has a long way to go. In Switzerland only 5 percent of male deaths were alcohol-related and in Denmark just 1 percent”.  

 

 
It is an excellent website which could easily be adapted to our context here in the Comox Valley, because all types of addictions have no national, gender, generational, cultural or economic boundaries. With addictions, we are all equally at risk and equally a part of the solution. It is not about if and when, but how we help each other as a collaborative and supportive community.
 
As you raise your glass for St. Valentine’s Day, may you do so with the conscious realization that we are all connected.
 
 
Catherine Hedrich

Editor in Chief, Tidechange.ca