Australia: Alcohol Socially Most Harmful Drug
Alcohol causes the most overall harm to Australian society, surpassing crystal methamphetamine (ice) and heroin, drugs that usually receive more attention, according to a new national study.
The Australia-first study, funded by St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, examined 22 drugs and measured the risk to an individual and the damage to society as a whole. 25 drug-harm experts ranked the drugs on a score of 0 to 100, based on the damage they caused, including illness, injury and death.
They also examined the effects drugs have on users’ families and the wider community, such as through violence, crime, unemployment, economic costs and relationship breakdowns.
Alcohol ranked as the highest damaging drug to Australian community scoring 77/100. Alcohol was followed by crystal meth (66), heroin (58) and fentanyl (51).
Alcohol harm in Australia
Almost 6000 Australians die from alcohol-related harm each year.
That’s about one person every 90 minutes,” said Lead researcher Associate Professor Yvonne Bonomo as per The Sydney Morning Herald.
Yet up to half a million Australians are unable to access the help they need from alcohol and other drug treatment services, with the largest unmet demand being for alcohol dependence.”
Other alcohol harms
- Costs of alcohol to Australia are $6.8 billion annually.
- 60 physical illnesses including seven forms of cancer and scored high rates of depression, anxiety and brain injury.
- Women are most at risk of being assaulted by intimate partners under the influence of alcohol.
- Men are most likely to be injured by strangers, friends and colleagues under the influence of alcohol.
- Children growing up with to parents who have alcohol problems were left with long-lasting trauma including effects on their development and mental health.
Alcohol control in Australia
In Australia, total alcohol per capita consumption is above the WHO Western Pacific Region at 10.6 liters. Binge alcohol use of 15 to 19 year old youth is rather high with over half (56.2%) alcohol using youth engaging in this harmful behavior. This is despite the legal age for alcohol use being 18 years.
Australia can further strengthen their alcohol policy by restricting alcohol availability, sponsorship and promotions which are WHO recommended best buy policy measures found effective to control consumption and alcohol harm.