Alcohol and Injury in Nova Scotia

Through recent research we know a lot about underlying causes of injuries and deaths of Nova Scotians. Risky behaviour associated with alcohol use is a major cause.

The following information is taken directly from The Atlantic Collaborative on Injury Prevention (ACIP) document, Alcohol & Injury in Atlantic Canada (2010).

The Link Between Alcohol & Injuries in Relation to the major areas of injury and death:

  • Motor Vehicle Crashes
  • Falls
  • Suicides and Suicide attempts
Alcohol & Motorized Vehicle Crashes:

  • Motor vehicle collisions are responsible for over half of alcohol-related severe trauma hospitalization sin Canada (CIHI,2005)
  • In an average year in Canada, impaired driving kills 1,212 person, injures 71,532 and causes damage to 236,375 vehicles.
  • According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) in 2007, 92 Atlantic Canadians were killed in a traffic crash involving a drunk driver.
Alcohol & Falls:

  • Alcohol consumption was linked with greater incidence of falls resulting in craniofacial injury.(Johnson and McGovern, 2004)
  • The severity of both limb and head injury is greater and correlates directly with blood alcohol concentration.
  • Acute alcohol use (within 6 hours of the event) contributes to unintentional fall risk, resulting in serious injury among young and middle-aged adults and accounts for at least a threefold increase in risk. (Kool et al,2009)
  • Avoidance of alcohol is estimated to reduce the number of these injuries by up to 20% (Kool et al., 2008)
Alcohol & Suicide:

  • Alcohol has been found in as many as 56% of suicides (Bilban & Skibin, 2005).
  • Both chronic and acute alcohol use are associated with suicidal behaviour.
  • Impulsivity and aggression are strongly implicated in suicidal behaviour and these confer additional risk of suicide in people with alcohol dependence (Sher, 2006).
  • People who are intoxicated are more likely to attempt suicide using more lethal means.
  • Those who self-medicate anxiety with alcohol are more likely to attempt suicide (Bolton,,2006).
  • Alcohol may be an important factor in suicide among people with no mental health/psychiatric history (Sher,2006).
Alcohol & Violence and Violent Injury:

  • People are more likely to intentionally hurt others, or to have violence inflicted on them while under the influence of alcohol (AADAC,2003).
  • People with alcohol impairment are significantly more likely to be involved in violent injuries than any other cause (i.e. vehicle, falling, poisoning or burns)(MacDonald et al, 2006)
  • Some researchers have gone as far as to conclude that alcohol may be causally related to violence(MacDonald et al.,2005;Rehm et al., 2003) For example, MacDonald et al.(1999) found that 42% of those with violent injuries had a Blood Alcohol Content over 80 mg% compared with only 4% for those with unintentional injuries.
  • Alcohol may serve as a trigger for violent behaviour, especially by those with violent pre-dispositions (Cook, 2007).