Avoid alcohol

What is alcohol?

Alcohol is a toxic substance that affects the way we think and behave. It is a depressant that provides a sense of relaxation by slowing down our heart rate, breathing, brain functions, thoughts, and actions. People consume alcohol in drinks such as beer, wine, spirits, and cider. Even though it is legal, alcohol can have harmful health effects.

What are the benefits of avoiding alcohol?

Avoiding alcohol can provide lots of benefits and can help boost your mood and general health. The way alcohol affects your body depends on factors such as your body weight, your sex, your age, the amount you drink, your past drinking experience, and your overall health.i

Avoiding or even limiting alcohol can help reduce short-term risk and long-term risk of poor health. Some of the benefits include:

  • improved mental health
  • improved energy levels
  • better sleep
  • better long-term physical health
  • reduced risk of heart disease and high blood pressure
  • reduced risk of a variety of cancers

Which cancers can be prevented?

Drinking alcohol frequently can increase the risk of cancers of the liver, breast, mouth, throat, colon, and stomach. Evidence shows that the more alcohol a person regularly drinks, the higher their risk of getting an alcohol-associated cancer. As an example, we can prevent around 1,000 cancer cases in 2038 if all Manitobans avoid alcohol, starting today.

What can you do?

For cancer prevention, it is best not to drink any alcohol.

If you do drink alcohol, do not exceed Canada’s low-risk drinking guidelines. To help reduce your risk of cancer, the recommendations are to drink:

  • less than one drink a day for women
  • less than two drinks a day for men

The definition of a standard drink can vary based on the type of alcohol you are consuming. One drink is equal to:

  • 12 oz or 341 ml of beer based on 5% alcohol content (note a can of pop is usually 355 ml and often beer is served in glasses, bottles or king cans that exceed 1 drink size)
  • 5 oz or 142 ml of wine based on 12% alcohol content, (note a juice box is usually 120 ml and often wine is poured in larger volumes that exceed 1 drink size)
  • 1.5 oz or 43 ml of spirits (liquor that has no added sugar) based on 40% alcohol content
  • 1.5 oz or 43 ml of distilled alcohol (rye, gin, rum, etc.) based on 40% alcohol content

Do not drink when you are:

  • pregnant or planning to be pregnant
  • driving a vehicle or using machinery and tools
  • living with serious mental or physical health concerns
  • taking medication or other drugs that interact with alcohol
  • doing any kind of dangerous physical activity
  • responsible for the safety of others

How can I avoid alcohol?

Here are some tips that can help you reduce or avoid alcohol:

  • set weekly and daily limits for yourself and try your best to stick to them
  • eat before and snack often while you drink to slow down the absorption of alcohol in your body
  • keep in mind that your age, body weight, and health problems may suggest a lower limit for you
  • hydrate with water instead of alcohol and alternate one glass of water with every alcoholic drink you have
  • drink fun alcohol-free alternatives like mocktails
  • go for a walk, practice yoga, read a book or chat with a friend to relax instead of drinking alcohol
  • avoid pre-gaming (drinking at home first) before going out
  • set realistic goals to reduce your alcohol consumption by decreasing the number of drinking days or number of drinks in a day instead of trying to cut alcohol all at once

Alcohol does not affect everyone in the same way, so it’s important to avoid alcohol and drink responsibly. For more support and resources, see below or talk to your healthcare provider. 

Programs and Services

Free Programs and Services in Your Area

Addictions Foundation Manitoba: Workshops

Addictions Foundation of Manitoba: Contact

Manitoba Addictions: Helpline

Native Addictions Council of Manitoba: Programs

Alcoholics Anonymous in Manitoba

Northern Health Region: Addiction Services

Klinic: Crisis Line

Shared Health: Mental Health and Wellness Resource Finder

Stress Management/Mindfulness

University of Manitoba: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness (Manitoba) 

Canadian Mental Health Association: Manitoba Workshops

Winnipeg RHA: Mind and Body Wellness

Interlake-Eastern RHA: Relaxation Series