“Alcohol, though widely used & enjoyed in Australian
society, is a depressant drug. In low quantities it causes people to become
less inhibited, in higher doses it can cause unconsciousness and even death.
It is thought that low to moderate consumption may offer some protective
health effects. However, high alcohol consumption increases the risk of
heart, stroke & vascular diseases, liver cirrhosis and some cancers. It
also contributes to disability and death through accidents, violence,
suicide and homicide.” (WHO 2004)
Australia ranks 14th in ‘Total Alcohol Consumption’ (per
capita) – ahead of such countries as United States, New Zealand, Japan,
Italy, Canada & Greece.
ranks 8th in ‘Beer
Consumption’, 14th for
‘Spirit Consumption’ & 8th for ‘Wine
adults reported drinking in the week before the NHS survey with one in eight
(8) drinking at a ‘risky/high’ level. This represents 13% of all adults or
some 2 million people.
Drinking at or above ‘risky/high’ risk levels in the short
term (on any single occasion) is sometimes referred to as ‘Binge Drinking’.
It can lead to an increased incidence of assaults, falls, other accidents
(including motor vehicle accidents) and
Drinking for people 18 years & over (reported over the previous 12
months) and on at least one (1) occasion applied to 48% of males & 30%
of females. For those 14 years & over, 40% of males & 31% of females
consumed alcohol at ‘risky/high’ levels in the short
those who drank at ‘risky/high’ risk levels, more people reported high/very
high psychological distress compared with those who drank at ‘low risk’
levels. The most affected were in the age group 18 – 24 years; women more so
· Alcohol is the
2nd largest cause of
drug-related deaths and hospitalizations in Australia (after tobacco) (AIHW,
is the main cause of deaths on Australian roads.
been estimated that 31,132 Australians died from alcohol-caused disease
& injury between 1992 and 2001; of these 75% were males. From 1993-94 to
2000-01, there were over ½ million hospitalizations due to ‘risky’ and ‘high
risk’ drinking in Australia (Chikritzhs
et al. 2003).
community level, the estimated economic cost of alcohol misuse to the
Australian community in 1998 – 99 totalled $7.6 Billion, and this estimate
includes associated factors such as crime and violence, treatment costs,
loss of productivity and premature death (Collins & Lapsley,
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO),
approximately 140 million people throughout the world suffer from alcohol