Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Alcohol is the most used substance in Canada. Understanding the impacts of alcohol use is essential to minimizing the risks and harms. For this reason, CCSA conducts research, brings together knowledge and develops resources to support evidence-based decisions and actions for policy, practice and use.

What Is Alcohol?

Alcohol, also known as ethanol, is a legal substance known for its psychoactive properties. It is produced by fermenting or distilling produce or grains. Fermented beverages include beer, cider, wine and flavoured purified alcohol, which range from 0.5% to 20% alcohol by volume (ABV). Distilled beverages, often called spirits, include products such as vodka and whisky, which usually are 25% ABV and higher.

Many social gatherings feature alcoholic beverages. Nevertheless, the consumption of alcohol carries a risk of adverse health and social consequences related to its intoxicating, toxic and dependence-producing properties. To avoid harms, people in Canada who choose to drink should follow Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health which replaced Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.

Our Experts

Catherine Paradis, PhD
Director, Health Promotion and Scientific Alcohol Lead
Bryce Barker, PhD, CE
Senior Knowledge Broker
Chandni Sondagar, MPH, PMP
Senior Knowledge Broker
Hanie Edalati, PhD
Research and Policy Analyst

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