Skip to main content Skip to footer


The HKPR District Health Unit promotes prevention, education, and support services that empower individuals and families to make informed decisions, fostering a culture of well-being and minimizing the impact of alcohol substance abuse.


Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in Canada. Although alcohol consumption is often normalized and used in connection with social events, it can be harmful. 

Research shows that any level of alcohol consumption will increase the potential for long-term health risks including cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and alcohol dependency. Evidence confirms that drinking less means less harm from alcohol. Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health allows individuals to assess their own level of risk and make informed decisions about alcohol use. 

Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health provides evidence-based advice on alcohol to support people in making informed decisions about their health. The guidance is based on the latest research on alcohol-related risks and replaces Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRDGs) issued in 2011. 

The guidance is based on the principle of autonomy in harm reduction and the fundamental idea behind it that people living in Canada have a right to know that all alcohol use comes with risk. 

Key points from the guidance include: 

  • There is a continuum of risk associated with weekly alcohol use where the risk of harm is: 
  • 0 drinks per week — Not drinking has benefits, such as better health, and better sleep. 
  • 2 standard drinks or less per week — You are likely to avoid alcohol-related consequences for yourself or othersat this level. 
  • 3–6 standard drinks per week — Your risk of developing several types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer, increasesat this level. 
  • 7 standard drinks or more per week — Your risk of heart disease or stroke increases significantly at this level. 
  • Each additional standard drink radically increases the risk of alcohol-related consequences. 
  • Consuming more than 2 standard drinks per occasion is associated with an increased risk of harms to self and others, including injuries and violence. 
  • When pregnant or trying to get pregnant, there is no known safe amount of alcohol use. 
  • When breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest. 
  • No matter where you are on the continuum, for your health, less alcohol is better.

Talking to your children about alcohol at an early age is important. Most students in Grades 7-12 try alcohol before other substances, with the average age being 13 years old. One-quarter of students in Grades 7 to 12 reported high-risk drinking behaviour (defined as consuming 5 or more drinks per occasion). 

Youth drink for many reasons: 

  • To fit in with their peers 
  • Because they see their parents drinking 
  • To help relax or deal with stress 

For some youth, drinking alcohol can lead to problems in school, mental health conditions and continued use as adults. 

Online Resources 

Energy Drinks and Alcohol 

Energy drinks should not be consumed with alcohol. When people drink alcohol with energy drinks, they are more likely to feel less impaired and therefore may drink more alcohol. Health Canada does not permit the sale of drinks that contain both alcohol and energy drinks because it may increase the risk of harm. 

Energy drinks with lots of caffeine are what’s considered the most commonly-used ‘drug’ taken by Ontario students in Grades 7-12 (Ontario Student Use & Drug Health Survey, 2021).    

Youth may be influenced by energy drink ads that show users feeling energized, alert and better able to tackle the day. Have you ever read the label on an energy drink?  Ingredients often include caffeine, herbs, taurine, sugar, and vitamins. Warnings are also listed on the side of energy drinks, indicating who should not consume these products. Energy drinks are not considered to be a healthy choice for children, teens, pregnant and breastfeeding women.  

Did You Know? 

  • One can of most energy drinks has more caffeine in it than you should have in an entire day. 
  • Part of what makes you feel energized is the sugar added to these drinks – which is usually the same amount or more as a can of pop. Sugar can make you feel energized at first but will leave you more tired than ever a few hours later. 
  • Over time, you can become addicted to caffeine. 

Energy drinks are not healthy choices!  If you’re feeling low on energy, try eating a healthy snack or meal, drink water and ensure you are getting enough sleep. 

Online Resources 

This website uses cookies to enhance usability and provide you with a more personal experience. By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies as explained in our Privacy Policy.