The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of nearly every Canadian over the past 12 months.
Lifestyle and social changes that have come as a result have meant some people have more time on their hands. Others are experiencing more loneliness and boredom. Stress has become a universal feeling experienced by many.
All these factors have impacted the drinking habits of Canadians, according to the results of Statistics Canada's most recent survey.
For those who have increased their alcohol consumption during the pandemic, three main reasons were given. The most common reasons included boredom (60 per cent), stress (58 per cent), and convenience (53 per cent), indicating more time spent at home and the lack of regular schedule, and more access to alcohol were contributing factors to drinking habits during COVID-19
Statistics Canada says there has not been much change in the alcohol and drug consumption habits of Canadians who consumed alcohol or cannabis (about 54 per cent) prior to the pandemic. Of those who had previously consumed alcohol, about a quarter say their consumption increased during the pandemic, while about 22 per cent say their consumption had decreased.
Physical distancing and decreased social interactions were some reasons given for those who have been drinking less during the pandemic. About 58 per cent attributed drinking less to seeing friends less and not going out to restaurants or social gatherings.
About 46 per cent cited their decision to drink less as a personal choice associated with weight control, health concerns, or not enjoying the effects of alcohol.
More than one-third of cannabis consumers say their consumption has increased during COVID-19.
As of January 2021, two-thirds or 66 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older reported they had consumed alcohol sometime in the past month.
Most report having one or two drinks during this time. About one in five people say they consumed five or more drinks on the days they had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. In 2017, 11 per cent of Canadians reported consuming this much alcohol on the days they reported drinking, showing an increase in the comparable 2021 statistics.
A decline in mental health was also an influencing factor in people's rates of consumption of cannabis and alcohol, with 41 per cent of respondents to Statistics Canada's survey saying their alcohol consumption had increased due to the "very stressful" or "extremely stressful" circumstances of the pandemic.
Those who felt isolated "often" or "always" from others during the pandemic also reported increased alcohol consumption -- about 33 per cent of respondents. Only 12 per cent of respondents said they "never" or "hardly ever" felt that way.