Fourth CROP survey for Éduc’alcool: 

Montreal, May 26, 2021 – The number of Quebecers drinking excessively is at its lowest since April 2020According to the latest survey, 70% of drinkers never drank more than the recommended limits in the previous month, and 10% exceeded the limits only once. That’s a significant drop since the last survey in November 2020, and it indicates that excessive drinking is close to what it was at the very beginning of the pandemic. Drinking frequency is also down, with the proportion of Quebecers who drink three to five times a week decreasing from 19% to 15%.  

Aside from those two indicators, drinking in Quebec has not changed notably since the start of the pandemic. Throughout May 2021, more than 80% of Quebecers drank either the same amount (70%) or less (13%)while 17% drank a little more (13%) or a lot more (4%).  

These are the main conclusions of the fourth survey on drinking in Quebec since the initial lockdown last spring. The CROP poll was commissioned by Éduc’alcool and conducted May 13-17, 2021. Similar polls were conducted in April, May and November of last year. 

Compliance with the recommended drinking limits is the most significant indicator, because an increase or decrease in drinking, in and of itself, does not paint a complete picture of the situation. For example, if someone who was having two drinks a week doubled their consumption to four drinks a week, that would not be a problem because it would still be within the recommended limits. But someone who was already exceeding the limits and did not increase their drinking is still drinking excessively. Contrary to what we had feared, we have found that the situation has stabilized,” said Hubert Sacy, Director General of Éduc’alcool.   

We often hear thaincreased drinking in Quebec is of concern. But when you take the time to analyze how people are drinking, you find that, despite the pandemic, drinking is still generally reasonable. The trends are demonstrated very clearly in the surveys we have been doing regularly for Éduc’alcool,” noted Dominic BourdagesVice President of CROP.  

Profiles and reasons why people have changed their drinking habits

The survey shows that the people who are drinking more are mainly 1854those earning $40,000-$80,000 a year, those who have experienced a change in their employment situation, and those who are feeling a greater psychological impact since the start of the pandemic  

Among Quebecers who increased their drinking, 86% said they drank more often (compared to 76% last November) while 25% said they drank more on each occasion (compared to 30% six months ago). 

The three main reasons people give for drinking more are the same ones they gave in previous surveys: 

  • to relieve boredom or have something to do (39%)a significant increase since last November (27%),  
  • to reduce stress and anxiety (30%)which is a return to the figures from the start of the pandemic, and 
  • having more time to drink (24%). 

Among the 13% of Quebecers who cut back on their drinking, 94% said they were drinking less frequently and 33% said they were drinking less on each occasion. 

Those who were drinking less said they did so mainly because they generally drink in bars and restaurants, or because they are social drinkers who drink only among friends and family (huge increase from 40% in November to 57% in May). The percentage of people who cut back on their drinking for health reasons held steady at 19%Also, only 4% cited budgetary reasons for their reduced drinking, compared to 17% in November. 

The importance of staying vigilant

“Still, in May, 10% of Quebecers drank more than the recommended limits at least once a week, and 20% did so one to three times a month. This may not be catastrophic per se, but it is not good news, given that heavy drinking weakens the immune system and may reduce vaccine efficacy. Very heavy drinkers in Quebec, while still a very small minority, are cause for worry, since they are most at risk for alcohol-related health problems and dependence,” added Hubert Sacy. 

On another note, one in five Quebecers said they have drunk alcohol to feel better when they are depressed, sad or stressed: 5frequently and 17occasionally. Drinkers under the age of 55, those who have been psychologically affected by the pandemic, and those whose drinking has increased constitute the majority of this group 

After a phase of major change that upended our lives and affected our behaviour, we seem to be stabilizing and seeing a little improvementWith people getting vaccinated and restrictions lifting, it is more important than ever that we adjust to our new reality, measure our drinking, and above all, put into practice the slogan that more than 90of Quebecers already know so wellModeration is always in good taste,” concluded Hubert Sacy. 

 

A note about methodology: The results of this survey, which was administered by CROP, are based on 1,000 responses recorded May 13-17, 2021Respondents were recruited by a web panel. The data are compared to those from three previous surveys conducted using the same method: April 4-6, 2020, May 5-10, 2020, and November 19-24, 2020. 

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