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Health, social and economic: The impacts of alcohol and other drugs


Morgan Liotta


20/12/2019 2:24:13 PM

The most up-to-date information on alcohol, tobacco and other drug use in Australia has been released.

Alcoholic drinks
The AIHW found that 17% of Australians aged 14 and older placed themselves or others at risk of harm while under the influence of alcohol.

The new report, the latest from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), reveals key trends in the availability, consumption, harms and treatment for alcohol and other drugs.
 
Itemised data on alcohol and other drug use among priority populations is also presented in the report. The AIHW identifies priority populations as:

The report provides an overview and understanding of current alcohol and other drug use in Australia, with the aim to improve and implement strategic approaches to harm minimisation via union with the National Drug Strategy’s three pillars: demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction.
 
The health impacts of alcohol and other drugs use are vast – burden of disease, accident and injury, mental illness and drug-induced death.
 
The AIHW reports that, in 2015, tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use collectively accounted for 16.5% of the total burden of disease in Australia.
 
In 2017, 1795 deaths (7.4 per 100,000 population) were drug-induced – the second highest on record after 1999 (9.1 deaths per 100,000). Over the past decade, drug-induced deaths were more likely to be due to prescription drugs than illegal drugs, with a substantial rise in the number of deaths with a prescription drug present – opioids being the most commonly identified.
 
Significant social impacts of alcohol and other drug use include family, domestic and sexual violence, homicide, victimisation, risky behaviour and criminal activity.
 
In 2016, 22% of Australians had ever been verbally or physically abused by, or put in fear by someone, under the influence of alcohol. In the same year, one in 10 people reported driving a motor vehicle after recently consuming alcohol – the most risky behaviour undertaken by recent drinkers. 
 
Economic impacts of alcohol and other drug use mostly relate to household expenditure, healthcare and law enforcement costs, and decreased productivity.
 
The human cost of drug misuse in 2011 was estimated to be almost $3.2 billion; costs were associated with drug-induced deaths, medical costs of hospitalisation, drug treatment, pharmacotherapy and lost productivity.
 
The AIHW reports tobacco, alcohol and non-medical use of pharmaceuticals as the drugs that have the biggest impact in Australia. Tobacco smoking remains the leading cause of preventable burden, and around 17% of Australians aged 14 and older placed themselves or others at risk of harm while under the influence of alcohol in 2016.
 
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in Australia, with use remaining relatively stable between 2001 at 12.9% and 2016 at 10.4%.
 
GP resources for alcohol and other drug use  
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alcohol and other drugs burden of disease drug-induced death harm minimisation



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