The Range and Magnitude of Alcohol’s Harm to Others

Summary

This study represents a sustained and comprehensive effort to quantify alcohols harm to others. It draws on and analyses a wide variety of existing and newly developed data, including a national survey of more than 2,600 Australians aged 18 or older conducted in 2008. The study also reports for the first time on the previously largely hidden financial costs of alcohol abuse on others, including family members of drinkers, friends, workmates, and strangers. Previous estimates have focused mainly on the drinkers themselves and the direct costs to society.

The cost of alcohol abuse is emotional and relational as well as financial. Heavy drinkers have cost those around them more than $14 billion in out-of-pocket expenses, forgone wages and productivity, and more than $6 billion in intangible costs. Each year more than 70,000 Australians are the victims of alcohol-related assaults and, of those, 24,000 experience the assault as domestic violence. In addition, almost 20,000 children across Australia are victims of substantiated alcohol-related child abuse.

Outcomes

According to the report, almost three-quarters of all adults in Australia were negatively affected over a one-year period by someone elses’ drinking, in ways ranging from minor annoyance to physical violence or death.

The study concludes that the overall tangible and intangible costs to Australia of alcohol abuse could be double the previous estimates if the additional impact that heavy drinkers have on others around them is taken into account, particularly in areas such as out-of-pocket expenses, lost time, forgone wages and productivity.

Author

Dr Anne-Marie Laslett, Centre for Alcohol Research and Education, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre; School of Population Health, University of Melbourne.
Mr Paul Catalano, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology.
Associate Professor Tanya Chikritzhs, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology.
Dr Caroline Dale, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London.
Professor Christopher Doran, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales.
Mr Jason Ferris, Centre for Alcohol Research and Education, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.
Mr Thameemul (Ansari) Jainullabudeen, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales.
Mr Michael Livingston, Centre for Alcohol Research and Education, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre; School of Population Health, University of Melbourne.
Ms Sharon Matthews, Epidemiology and Surveillance Program, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, Eastern Health.
Ms Janette Mugavin, Centre for Alcohol Research and Education, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.
Professor Robin Room, Centre for Alcohol Research and Education, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre; School of Population Health, University of Melbourne.
Ms Morgan Schlotterlein, Centre for Alcohol Research and Education, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.
Ms Claire Wilkinson, Centre for Alcohol Research and Education, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.

Report

Download a copy of the research report