The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission’s new DrinkSense campaign hopes to educate Albertans on the dangers of alcohol abuse.
Whether it’s a Christmas party, Thanksgiving dinner, New Year’s Eve, a birthday party, or just a gathering of friends, there is no shortage of occasions where people are encouraged to drink alcohol.
Despite the ubiquity of alcohol use in modern culture, the prevalence of alcohol abuse is an ongoing issue that affects the lives of many Edmontonians. To that end, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) has started a long-term, multi-faceted campaign, called DrinkSense, to educate citizens of all ages on the dangers related to alcohol.
Coinciding with International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, the campaign launched on Sept. 9 with a brand new DrinkSense website, digital advertising through social media, and promotional materials at more than 130 Best Bar None venues across Alberta.
“It’s really an opportunity to start the conversation with a variety of groups and a variety of topics around the responsible use of alcohol,” said Bill Robinson, president and CEO of the AGLC.
“We’ve got some really hard-hitting pieces, TV ads, social media initiatives, really trying to get the point across that responsible drinking is everyone’s responsibility. That’s what DrinkSense is, an ongoing revolutionary style of program that will focus in on the responsible use of alcohol and drinking.”
Robinson said it’s an amalgamation of a number of disparate alcohol safety awareness programs that the AGLC has run in the past. More specifically, the program’s use of digital platforms is intended to reach millennial audiences who may not know all there is to know about the short- and long-term effects alcohol has on the body.
The DrinkSense website, for example, will have a tool that allows users to profile alcohol use and determine whether they need to rethink their drinking habits.
“We have a young demographic in Alberta and people from all facets of life use alcohol products,” Robinson said. “We wanted to make sure we had a really cohesive message and interactive program which would allow people to go on the website to see our ads to understand the message of responsibility for liquor products.”
Robinson was an Edmonton police officer for nearly 35 years, which has given him a wealth of experience dealing with the dark side of substance abuse.
When it comes to impaired driving, for example, he notes that the rate of incidents would ebb and flow, regardless of whether the AGLC was running an awareness campaign or not.
He’s learned that taking a hardline or aggressive approach isn’t a very effective way to change people’s behaviours. He hopes the education focus of the DrinkSense program will help Edmontonians find alternatives to drinking.
“You have to find and look for new ways to get through to people, to make sure that people have an opportunity to learn and I think that’s what our website will be very good at, where people are able to get in and take a self-reflective process of how they use the products and maybe through those learnings will alter some behaviours and it will offer some opportunity for agency contacts if you have problems with alcohol or liquor.”
For more information on the DrinkSense program, head to DrinkSenseAB.ca.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.