No Alcohol Day a chance to reflect on alcohol’s role in community

An discarded empty bottle of liquor sits in downtown Prince Albert. -- Herald file photo.

For many, Tuesday was a day to stop and think about the role alcohol plays in our lives.

Tuesday was World No Alcohol Day, and the Prince Albert Community Alcohol Strategy Steering Committee (CASSC) was encouraging residents to do their part to think about what they can do to ensure the safe and responsible consumption of alcohol.

“World No Alcohol Day is a great day for most of us to have one day without alcohol and think about the role of alcohol in our lives and in our community,” said Robert Bratvold, a member of CASSC.

“And then, to also think about those folks who have addictions, who couldn’t imagine a day without alcohol. It’s a day to pause and thin,\k, and then to also think of what you can do.”

The city joined in, officially proclaiming Oct. 2, 2018, as World No Alcohol Day.

CASSC hoped people took the time to understand its three primary focus areas Tuesday: encouraging alcohol-free events, promoting safe and responsible consumption and intervention and support for those suffering from addiction.

“Host an event,” Bratvold said.

“If one’s planned, take your family. That builds momentum that there are lots of ways to have some great fun that don’t have alcohol as a part of them. “

Bratvold said groups should consider ensuring safe and responsible consumption by alternating alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at events, or planning to limit the number of beverages, or ensuring people have a safe ride home.

“The last thing was about finding ways you can provide intervention and support for those suffering from addictions and their families,” he continued.

“It might be that you donate to a charity. You might volunteer at some kind of organization that provides counselling and support. You might refer family members and friends who are looking for some help (to) a place they can go, whether it’s someone who has an addiction or families impacted. Those are areas we try to promote.”

Those three focuses of the strategy are just some of the dozens of recommendations and ideas the document contains. While those three are what CASSC are dialling in on, Bratvold encouraged others to read the document and see if there’s something a service club or church could get involved with.

He also stressed that the concerns surrounding alcohol abuse or unsafe use are seen around the world.

The World Health Organization estimates that there are about 3.3 million deaths worldwide every year due to harmful use of alcohol. In Canada alone, one study of the total cost of alcohol-related harm, including lost productivity, direct health and enforcement costs, at $14.6 billion per year – or more than the entire budget of the Government of Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan’s budget estimates the province will take in $14.24 billion this year while spending $14.6 billion.

“Those are (things) we want to pause and think about on World No Alcohol Day,” Bratvold said.