Excessive Drinking Harms 1 in 5 Adult Australians, Study Finds

A study reveals 20% of adult Australians experience harm from others' excessive drinking, with women disproportionately affected, especially in regional areas. The research highlights the need for policy changes and services to address the issue, particularly for regional women and children.

author-image
Bijay Laxmi
New Update
Excessive Drinking Harms 1 in 5 Adult Australians, Study Finds

Excessive Drinking Harms 1 in 5 Adult Australians, Study Finds

A new study published in the Addiction journal reveals that approximately 20% of adult Australians experience harm from others' excessive drinking, with women disproportionately affected, especially in regional areas. The groundbreaking research, conducted by La Trobe University across regional and metropolitan Australia, surveyed participants and uncovered alarming consequences of heavy alcohol consumption.

Why this matters: The far-reaching consequences of excessive drinking can have a significant impact on public health and social welfare, affecting not only the drinkers themselves but also their families and communities. Addressing this issue is crucial to preventing harm and promoting a safer and healthier society.

The study found that almost two-thirds of participants reported having heavy drinkers in their lives, with over 22% being negatively affected by the drinking of people they knew well. Six percent experienced alcohol-related harm from a household member, while 15% reported harm from a family member they did not live with. Seven percent reported harm from a friend, and 3% from a co-worker in the past year.

Lead researcher Dr. Anne-Marie Laslett highlighted the burden placed on those close to excessive drinkers: "Participants felt the burden of driving such friends and relatives around and caring for them; they reported feeling let down due to them not living up to their roles; and feeling emotionally hurt or neglected." The study also uncovered more serious harm, including verbal abuse, family problems, physical or sexual harm, property damage, financial stress, and threats.

The research revealed a significant gender disparity, with almost 15% of women, compared to almost 8% of men, reporting being emotionally hurt or neglected. Additionally, 11.5% of women experienced serious arguments, compared to 7.2% of men. Dr. Laslett expressed concern over the findings: "It was quite concerning to see the number of participants who reported family problems, were called names or insulted, and fell into financial trouble from others' drinking behaviours."

The study's authors emphasize the need for urgent policy changes and services to address the issue, particularly for regional women and children affected by a family member's drinking behaviors. They recommend improved regional services, gendered services that consider the needs of women, more focus on protecting young people, and interventions that target both drinkers and those around them.

The findings underscore the far-reaching consequences of excessive drinking in Australia and the necessity for immediate action to provide support and services for those impacted. As public health-oriented advocacy organisations continue to push for harm prevention and policy change, it is crucial that the voices of those affected by others' drinking are heard and their needs addressed.

Key Takeaways

  • 20% of adult Australians experience harm from others' excessive drinking.
  • Women are disproportionately affected, especially in regional areas.
  • Almost 2/3 of participants reported having heavy drinkers in their lives.
  • Emotional harm, verbal abuse, and financial stress are common consequences.
  • Urgent policy changes and services are needed to address the issue.