Australia: Alcohol Most Harmful Drug
A new study has revealed alcohol was the number one drug causing Australians to seek professional help. According to the scientific findings, the four most common drugs that led Australians to ask for help were alcohol (34%), amphetamines or ‘ice’ (25%), cannabis (21%) and heroin (5%).
Experts in the field believe despite the high alcohol harm to people, alcohol lobbyists are pushing to make sure Australians keep using their products, disregarding public health.
Alcohol is the most harmful drug by a country mile – it just happens to be legal.
Alcohol has more impact on emergency departments than any other drug put together, including cannabis and cocaine, said Dr David Caldicott, Australian National University lecturer and emergency consultant, as per The New Daily.
Each year, nearly 6000 Australian lives are lost and 144,000 people are hospitalised due to alcohol, says the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).
Alcohol fuels violent incidents such as coward punches and car crashes. It is also a major factor contributing to high rates of domestic violence.
Alcohol harm in Australia
The per capita consumption of alcohol in Australia is comparatively higher than the WHO Western Pacific regional average. Youth alcohol use shows that over half of the youth population between 15 to 19 years engage in binge alcohol use. This is despite the minimum legal age for alcohol sale being 18 years. 6.1% Australian men suffer from some alcohol use disorder, which is above the average for the region.
Big Alcohol at play
Despite the harm alcohol is causing, Australian political parties continue to accept big money from alcohol industry lobby groups to ensure that Australians keep consuming and the harmful products maintain their profitability for Big Alcohol.
The alcohol industry lobby is among the most powerful in the country.
They’re extremely active in parliament and they are big donors,” said FARE CEO Michael Thorn as per The New Daily.
Alcohol industry lobby groups work hard to make sure the government doesn’t implement policies that will reduce sales and related harm. Such policies include higher taxes or stricter availability regulations.
Data sourced from the Australian Electoral Commission’s political donation records show alcohol industry lobby groups paid political parties more than $1.8 million in donations in 2017-18. Big donors included various branches of the Australian Hotels Association, Lion and Spirits and Cocktails Australia.
Deakin University violence prevention professor Peter Miller said these lobby groups have “long-term, well-developed strategies aimed at engaging and grooming politicians”.
The alcohol industry in Australia is worth billions of dollars. 75% of all alcohol sales in Australia come from 20% of consumers which means they make most of their profits from people who are heavy alcohol users.