Last Call: Starting a conversation about the impact of alcohol in Guelph and Wellington County

The stories that we collected for Last Call were as diverse as the people who told them. We talked to 15 different community members about alcohol’s impact in Guelph and Wellington County. We heard about deeply personal struggles with alcoholism. We heard stories from police officers and paramedics about how alcohol impacts their work. We learned about the connection between alcohol and health problems, including cancer, liver disease and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. We heard stories about the high cost to taxpayers of high-risk alcohol use. 

collage of all interviewees

Here are a few of our most powerful quotes:

“I found that there were a lot of misconceptions about alcoholism when I sobered up myself. There was a belief that it was a defect of character to drink” – Sue. Watch Sue’s story.

“I would spend the mortgage money drinking, I would spend the utility money drinking…stop in after work with all intentions of going home and having spaghetti with the family, and at midnight or one o’clock, I’m still in that bar. Never able to say, I’m going for two and I just have two.” – Bob. Watch Bob’s story

“We see a tremendous number of patients in our hospital with alcohol-related medical concerns, injuries and emotional and mental health concerns” – Dr. Digby, Guelph General Hospital. Check out the rest of Dr. Digby’s story.

“There’s a lot of grief, regret, and sadness from all of the effects of alcohol. For those who do not misuse alcohol, it’s often associated with good times. It is difficult to separate the two, but for those who’ve been touched by the negative consequences of alcohol, it is a very serious and significant problem.” – Dr. Mercer. Hear more from Dr. Mercer.

“If you’re that officer that has to go to a family’s door and notify them that their loved one has been killed by a drunk driver, that’s a really bad day.” – Marylou, Wellington OPP Officer. See Marylou’s story.

“Most students think that over 90 percent of their peers drink or consume alcohol on a fairly regular basis but in fact it’s actually far less than that.” – Gabby, a University of Guelph student. Watch Gabby’s story.

“We’ve had people who have suffered head injuries … who will never, ever be the same.” – Jeremy, Guelph Police Service Officer. Watch Jeremy’s story.

“It’s interesting to see how alcohol can change someone’s personality.” – Joe, Paramedic. Watch Joe’s story.

“I think there are a lot of mixed messages, a lot of misinformation … that it’s okay to have one drink or it is okay if you just drink beer … but the reality is that it can be one drink that causes brain damage.” – Laurie, mother of two children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Watch Laurie’s story.

Last Call’s videos were shown at Galaxy Cinemas in Guelph and shared on, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The videos, to-date, have 250,000 views. We’ve received HUNDREDS of engagements on social media, including shared content, comments, and reactions. It’s obvious that raising awareness of and ultimately preventing alcohol-related harms is an important issue for the communities of Guelph and Wellington County.  

Last Call aims to raise awareness and start a conversation about all the ways that alcohol causes harm to our communities. For example, alcohol:

  • Is linked to over 200 diseases, including cancer

  • Causes hundreds of hospitalizations in our community each year, resulting in a burden to the healthcare system

  • Is linked with crime, family and intimate partner violence, trauma and vandalism

  • Is a factor in 25 percent of fatal motor vehicle collisions

We’ll continue to share the Last Call stories on social media and we encourage others to do the same. We’re engaging with the community and our partners to find ways to prevent alcohol-related harms in Guelph and Wellington County.

What surprised you most about the Last Call stories? Has alcohol affected your personal or professional life? Do you have any ideas about how to prevent alcohol-related harms in Guelph and Wellington County?

If you have a story about how alcohol has impacted your life or you would like to voice an opinion about alcohol in our community, please share it with us.  

Many people have already shared their stories with Last Call. Check them out!