Report shows regional Australia has a drinking problem

Key findings of the NSW-based Report of the Chief Health Officer 2016.
Key findings of the NSW-based Report of the Chief Health Officer 2016.

IT seems drinking to excess is par for the course in regional Australia, with a new report showing people living outside of capital cities are more likely to consume harmful levels of booze than metropolitan residents.

This is just one shock finding in the NSW-based Report of the Chief Health Officer 2016.

"Improvements can still be made in reducing harmful drinking in men, young adults, Aboriginal people, and people living in regional and remote areas of NSW," chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant says in the forward to the 20-page report released today.

As well as problems in regional areas, the report shows that harmful drinking is highest for 16 to 24-year-olds and it is lowest for people aged over 65.

While youth are drinking more than older NSW residents, the researchers found young people were drinking at less hazardous levels, leading to a drop in booze-related hospitalisations over the last nine years.

Aboriginal people abstain from alcohol as much as other NSW residents but when they do drink, indigenous Australians are likely to drink enough to put their long-term health at risk, the report shows.

Just under 25% of NSW residents consume more than four standard standard drinks in one session, placing them at high risk of related medical problems.

Dr Chant said excessive drinking and the link between booze and violence were just two factors to be addressed in the soon-to-be released NSW Health Alcohol and Other Drug Strategic Plan 2016-2020.

She said the plan would provide a framework for programs and policies designed to encourage safe consumption of alcohol.

"Excessive alcohol consumption not only affects the drinker but can also contribute to relationship and family problems, public intoxication and other criminal offenses," Dr Chant said.

"Alcohol use also increases the likelihood and extent of aggressive behaviour and reduces the cognitive and verbal capacity to resolve conflict.

"This combination of effects means that alcohol use can increase the likelihood of physical violence, including domestic violence. Improvements in all these areas may result from reductions in drinking levels." - ARM NEWSDESK

Topics:  alcohol editors picks health nsw research

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