City of Hamilton's Community Alcohol Report

Alcohol is deeply engrained in our culture – close to 80 per cent of residents drink. Alcohol is a common part of many holiday traditions, used to celebrate milestones, used to relax, and commonly consumed at sporting and music events. Alcohol is also widely and increasingly accessible. However, problematic alcohol use is one of the largest contributors to death, disease and disability in high income countries such as Canada.

One standard drink is equal to:


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Alcohol, drug and substance misuse are important public health issues in Hamilton. While it starts with an understanding by each of us of how much and how often we drink, there is more we can do as individuals and as a community to reduce the negative impacts of alcohol. Addressing problematic drug, alcohol and substance misuse requires a comprehensive strategy considering the principles of prevention, harm reduction, treatment and enforcement. Public Health Services is partnering with local agencies to ensure alcohol misuse and harms are addressed within Hamilton’s emerging Drug Strategy.  Together with our partners we will work to develop and advocate for plans and policies that are known to decrease the negative impacts of alcohol misuse. And we will continue to monitor the impact of alcohol on our community. 

Quick Facts

  • To reduce long-term health risks, Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines recommend: No more than 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day most days. No more than 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days. Plan non-drinking days each week.
  • According to 2013/2014 data, 43 per cent of Hamiltonians report drinking above the Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines and 8.5 per cent reported drinking alcohol every day. Alcohol consumption among young adults is higher than other age groups with almost 60 per cent of those aged 19 to 24 years of age reporting exceeding the guidelines. These behaviours put people at increased risk for preventable chronic diseases like liver disease, cancers, cardiovascular disease, in addition to increased risk for injury.
  • Groups at greater risk for harm include youth and post-secondary students because of the tendency towards binge drinking; and pregnant women.
  • Alcohol contributes costs to the health system and first responders. Between 2011 and 2013, 900 hospitalizations per year were attributable to alcohol use in Hamilton. From September 2015 to August 2016 Hamilton Paramedic Service received 1519 calls due to alcohol intoxication.