Alcohol Consumption in Australia

Posted: 5 months ago

Executive
Summary



This policy on
Alcohol Consumption in Australia in its beginning informs the readers about the
harmful effects of alcohol consumption and is followed by the description of
the alcohol situation in Australia. Various facts and figures suggest the
increased disease burden, social, violence and birth defects in the country.
The study reflects upon the various researches of alcohol impacts on population
(men, women, young and old), the child disorders due to alcohol consumptions by
pregnant ladies, the minimum age limit for alcohol initiation, chronic the non-cancer patient’s prescribed for opioids, associated anxiety disorders,
alcohol advertising and young people’s opinions about the alcohol policy.

The policy
includes the study on alcohol policy developments in New Zealand and United
Kingdom. New Zealand policy strategy implies the use of alcohol screening tool
for identifying the alcohol-related disorders and its implications for the
research policy. The jurisdiction consideration of United Kingdom elaborated the
importance of evidence collection for producing development policies for
alcohol consumption and implied the same for the research policy. The policy
includes the recommendations based on the information collected from the
research and experiences of two different countries the United Kingdom and New
Zealand. The recommendations are mainly focused on the liquor act concerning
the licensing of alcohol, taxation for the alcoholic products, management of
entertainment precincts, treatment of early childhood disorders, the role of
early childhood development in creating awareness for alcohol-related harms,
promoting the use of screening tools for alcohol-related disorders and the
regulation of alcohol disorders.

The policy in
overall analysis and evaluates the health and other harms of alcohol on
Australian population, supported by studies and researches and concluded by
the recommendations for the research policy.

1. Why is
this Issue Important?



Alcohol, the ingredient found in beers, wines, and spirits is called ethanol (ethyl
alcohol). Yeast fermentation of sugars in grains, fruits, and vegetables are
responsible for making alcohol. An alcohol effect in the body functioning of
the individual as it is both toxic and addictive. Alcohol is a depressant
lowers down the speed of stimulus travel between the brain and body parts. It
affects the thinking, feeling, and way of behaving in an individual as it
enters the blood flow and reaches the brain through the walls of stomach and
intestine.

Alcohol
affects an individual in a number of ways, but the effect may vary according to
gender, age and health conditions. The short-term effect of alcohol may lead to
a feeling of dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, impaired judgment, balance, and
coordination. This further leads to the occurrence of accidents, harming
oneself or others and unprotected or unwanted sex. The long term effects include
mental health-related issues, alcohol abuse, weight gain, reduced sex
performance, cancer, brain defects, and heart issues. Moreover, blood alcohol
consumptions (BOC) above 0.30 i.e. 30 grams of alcohol in the bloodstream which
might lead to death.

Alcohol is
consumed in Australia in a wide range of social situations. Alcohol being a
part of Australian culture is a complex issue. It is the most widely used drug
in the country as 90% of adults reports consuming it at least once and 80%
consuming it in the previous 12 months. And 17% of them drink alcohol at high
levels exposing them to health-related issues, violence, assaults, and accidents.
Every 1 in 20 death and 1/3rd of road accidents are the result of alcohol use.
Alcohol is held responsible for 9.1% and 3.8% of death in males and females
respectively (National Health Survey, 2017-2018). 


Alcohol
increases the disease burden of Australia, being a contributor to 200 chronic
diseases. It is Australia’s leading cause of death after tobacco with more than
5,500 deaths in 2017-2018. Moreover, it leads to several domestic violence
situations and contributes to road accidents and injuries. Further, alcohol use
causes high economic and service costs for health policing, justice and local
government. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), birth defects, behavioral
and abnormalities are long-life impacts of Alcohol use. Furthermore, alcohol
has been reported to cause low productivity. The total social cost of alcohol
in 2015/16 was $1,386.8 million equating to a cost impact of $7,577.94 per adult.


Australian The government’s Department of Health is making strategies, researching and is
taking initiatives for the community. The actions include Draft National
Alcohol Strategy 2018-2026, National Drug Research Centre, Good Sports Program The initiative, Local Drug Action Team, Pregnant Pause Initiative and many more.
Apart from this, there are various laws related to alcohol on Drink Driving,
Legal Drinking Age, Selling Alcohol, Labelling and where you can drink rules.

No matter the
use of illicit drugs has been reduced through strict laws by the Australian
Government by still the use of stimulants and depressants is increasing. In
order to overcome this problem media campaign, National Safe Use of Alcohol The strategy has been proposed by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for
Health and Aging. 


2. What
does Research tell us?      



 According to the National Health Survey: First
Results, 2017-18, every 18 years old one in six persons exceeded the
standardized drinks limit. The research indicated that one in five men and one
in eleven women exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines. It has been found out
that one in ten adult young adults and one in six adults exceeded the limit.


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Source(s)
 National Health Survey (2017-2018)


Australian
Bureau of Statistics (Commonwealth of Australia 2018) 


Implications:  In order to reduce the risks of
alcohol-related harms it has been implied that healthy men and women should not
drink more than 2 standard drinks a day and 4 drinks for occasions. Parents and
caretakers should keep the children below the age of 15 away from drinking as
it is this age that has the greatest risks of getting alcohol-related harm.
Moreover, it is advised for young people to delay the start of drinking. In
fact, pregnant women and breastfeeders should not drink at all.


Mothers’ hospital
admissions for alcohol use disorder in the 4 years following the birth of a
child: a cohort study based on linked population data found out those 2,551
mothers out of 404,558 mothers who gave birth during 1 July 2000 and 1 Dec 2006
in Australia had been admitted in hospitals for alcohol use disorders, 4 years
post the birth. Moreover, the readmissions have also been increased for AUD.
These contributors for AUD in these mothers were non-marital status, smoking,
remote areas and being a mom at a very young age.

Implications:
It has been suggested that proper action to control the use of alcohol should
be taken at first admission in order to prevent readmissions.

The research
on Alcohol use disorder, risky alcohol consumption and adverse events among
chronic non-cancer pain patients receiving opioid therapy found from a study
that among 1,500 persons having CNCP (opioid for chronic non-cancer pair), 8%
drank daily, 7% drank more than five drinks weekly and 31% were prone to
lifetime alcohol disorder. Bivariate analysis associated with alcohol disorders
with depression.

Implications:
The effects can be prevented for those consuming alcohol with CNCP through
monitoring, education and directing them for the treatment.

Another
research, Exploring the Relationship between first alcohol use, mood and
anxiety disorders explored the onset of alcohol use and its bi-directional
relationship with anxiety and depression. Well, the results are still not
found.

Implications:
The step of this research could help in prevention and early treatment by
bringing the target areas into the light and suggesting the best time for
treatment in order to be safe from the later life effects.

Australian
teenagers’ perception of industry compliance with the Australian Alcohol
Beverages Advertising Code. This study finds out the advertising order
maintenance with ABAC with regard to the 16-19-year-old heavy alcohol in
takers. The result showed a clear association of the advertisement with the
appeal to try the product. Moreover, the study reveals the violations of ABAC
by some adverts. As these influence adolescents to try and purchase by
using the actors below the age of 25.

Implications:
The current system needs to be regulated in accordance with ABAC in order to
safeguard the children and teenagers from getting directly influenced by
alcohol advertising.

In Young
people’s opinion about alcohol and other drug policy, the analyzed opinions of
2,335 young Australians and found out that 90% of them believed in the availability
of the treatment as per the needs, 51% agreed that the new psychoactive the substance shouldn’t be banned, but regulated and 71% greatly opposed the notion
of increasing the price of alcohol for its regulation. The young Australians
showed predicted positive opinions for the drug and alcohol.

Implications:
This study helps policymakers to understand young people’s attitudes
towards drugs and alcohol.

What is
Experience in other Jurisdictions?



New
Zealand



 In order to overcome the problem faced by the
medical professionals in informing the people regarding the harms and risk
factors associated with alcohol use and proposing the small steps towards
improvement, an online alcohol-risk communication tool was designed. This a web-based tool was responsible for alcohol screening and a brief involvement of
health professionals. The prototype of the tool is as follows:


•          The first step involves welcoming and
demographic questions being asked by the individuals.


•          The alcohol screening was done using
AUDIT- Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Tool. This screening process
obtained results from the scoring of the questions asked.


•          The traffic light colors were used
for indicating various levels of risks and interpretation of related risks.
Various other contexts like pregnancy, driving, operating machinery and
medication.


•          After identifying the drinking behaviors
individuals could modify them accordingly. This tool would help them find the
occurrence and quantity of alcohol consumption by them.


•          The tool assessed the related concerns
and the concerning signs of alcohol use.


•          It provided detailed information about
the resources and support were available.


•          It briefly summarized the individual
score, ways to change the intake patterns, method of recording the behaviors
and actions and assessment of the above while providing useful resources and
support.


Implications:  This tool should be made available and
brought in general practices for the best. This could also be involved in
patient management systems. Furthermore, the usefulness and potent of the tool
should be assessed involving the self-administration by patients via the web.


 

United
Kingdom



The King’s
Fund is a charity set up in England for improvement in health and health care.
This leading an independent firm has no formal links with the NIHR of United
Kingdoms. The King Fund report provides various suggestions for actions of
improvement. One such is for reducing the harms of alcohol.

The NICE
Public Health Guidance for Schools

The previous
gap noted of the evidence on the involvement of alcohol for children and
youngsters lead to development and advertisement of the school involvements in
order to avoid the harmful effects of drinking of alcohol by school-going
children and youngsters. The study findings addressed the research questions of
this area and the influence of the school-based involvement on the pessimistic
behaviors of the children attending the schools. This school involvement leads
to an improvement in the health behavior of the individual in a school
environment.

The King fund
further provided funds for the research investigating the effects of changed
alcohol densities of the alcohol outlets upon the alcohol consumption and the
related health harms. These research findings help in the regulations of the
alcohol densities by the concerned local authorities. This could further help
in improving the health conditions and reducing the crime.

Implications:
The research and evidence collection is necessary for innovations and
effectiveness of the implementations of the policies and health programs.
Furthermore, the studies help researches to fill the evidence gaps and
allow new knowledge to enter. This could also encourage suggestion submissions
by potential researches.

Considerations
for Policy and Program



The Liquor License- The objectives of the act involves the
regulations of the sales, supply, promotion, and consumption of the alcohol in
order to ensure the minimum alcohol harm on the consumers. Related to the
supply not too many licenses should be issued to the applicants. The cost of
the license should be increased along with regular renewal. The act should also
forbid certain promotional activities to sale the alcohol as fewer prices as this
would increase alcohol consumption. In order to clear the confusion, it is been
recommended to rewrite and amended the act. 
Moreover, the act should look upon the type and amount of liquor being
sold. The act should also provide standardized hours and days to sell the
liquor. The expected outcomes of the consideration includes the minimization of
the liquor consumption, selling liquor in a responsible manner, maintenance of
public safety and security at licensed areas, discouragement of irresponsible
drinking, prohibition of all the liquor takeaways on Sundays, extra license fee
for extended hours and takeaways and the licenses should fill the monthly and
yearly returns based on the sale volume.


Volumetric Tax & Floor Price- This tax is charged according to the
amount of alcohol available in the liquor. It is being recommended to set clear
objectives for taxing and revise the taxation policy in order to provide a
single volumetric tax rate in dollars per liter of alcohol content. This could
directly help in reducing the harms associated with alcohol use. The tax
adjustments should be made for all types of alcohol-related products. In order
to prevent the harms, it is also being suggested that a standardized minimum
unit price is set for all the products. Through this consideration, it is
expected to reduce the availability of cheap alcohol which is dangerous through
the introduction of floor tax with a minimum of $1.50 per standardized drink.


Late Night Entertainment Events- The public areas and late night’s
events are usually responsible for assaults and social behaviors connected
with alcohol. It has been recommended that these areas meant for entertainment
should not become alcohol precincts. There should be a time lockup till 3 am
for these events. The data evolving the alcohol-related harms in these areas
should be effectively collected and evaluated for further implementations. The
places should be allowed to trade alcohol till 4 am only and should remain
entertainment precincts and not alcohol precincts.


Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder- The birth defects, behavioral and
neurodevelopmental abnormalities come under FASD, caused due to the intake of
alcohol during consumption. The recommendation of this context includes the use
of diagnostic instruments, increment in the funds for early childhood support
for these students, raising the awareness of alcohol-related harms for the
pregnant moms, alcohol screening, reference and support and rehabilitation centers
for the alcohol-dependent pregnant ladies. It is expected to achieve funding in
relation to the early interventions for FASD. 
The policy asks for the screening of alcohol before and during
pregnancy. 


Early Childhood and Education- The involvement of schools for
creating awareness about alcohol-related harms in order to enable an informed
choice of alcohol could help in the prevention from related hazards. It is
being recommended to initiate early childhood development programs like
school-based alcohol programs, awareness by teachers in the schools, the
awareness not only in school but in other community settings as well as
sports, etc. and organization of public education campaigns. The policy implies
to develop protocols in order to share information, child protection, and
teaching and the school based alcohol programs on a long term basis.


AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) - The alcohol screening tool
assesses the alcohol patterns and consumptions leading to harmful social,
physical, mental, behavioral, cognitive and psychological effects on the consumer of alcohol. It is recommended to assess the outcomes of the tool and
the implementation of this tool should be well checked in treatment processes.
This should become a standardized tool for assessment. This tool should provide
appropriate treatment referrals to the patients. The use of AUDIT as a
standardized tool for assessment for all the health services and the funding of
treatment programs for at least 7 years.


Advertisements and Promotions- It is being strongly recommended to
enact laws for all the aspects of alcohol advertisements including the content,
placement, and volume of the adverts. It is being suggested to prohibit alcohol
advertisements in live sports events. The alcohol advertisements should also
include adverts on alcohol management topics and future impacts of alcohol. Policy
relates to the outcomes being the reduction in the harmful discount prices for
promotion and no promotional activities like shopper dockets.


References



 

Dorling, H.,
Cook, A., Ollerhead, L., & Westmore, M. (2015). The NIHR Public Health
Research Programme: responding to local authority research needs in the United
Kingdom. Health research policy and systems13(1), 77.


NDARC
Annual Symposium. 2014. Drug and Alcohol Research in the 21st Century:
Critical Issues and New Directions. Retrieved from
https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/ndarc/page/2014%20symposium%20program.pdf


Kool,
B., Dobson, R., Sharpe, S., Whittaker, R., Humphrey, G. and Ameratunga, S.
(2018). A web-based alcohol risk communication tool: Summary of the
development process.
Wellington: Health Promotion Agency


Australian
Bureau of Statistics. 4364.0.55.001- National Health Survey: First Results,
2017-18. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/4364.0.55.001


Northern
Territory Government. 2017. Alcohol Policy and Legislation Review. Final
Report. Retrieved from https://alcoholreform.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/453497/Alcohol-Policies-and-Legislation-Review-Final-Report.pdf


Northern
Territory Government. 2019. The social and Economic costs and harms of alcohol
consumption in the Northern Territory. Retrieved from https://www.menzies.edu.au/page/Research/Projects/Alcohol/Social_and_Economic_Costs_and_Harms_of_Alcohol_Consumption_in_the_Northern_Territory/