Alcohol a drain on the health system

Wednesday, 11 February 2009
/ Health

The Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) is concerned at reports yesterday of an increase in alcohol-related admissions to Auckland District Health Board’s emergency department.

“It must be frustrating for those working in emergency departments to be dealing with increasing numbers of drunk people in need of medical attention because of an accident or injury caused because they were intoxicated,” said ALAC Chief Executive Officer Gerard Vaughan.

“Although many people are back at work, the continued warmer weather and longer sunshine hours means there are still lots of opportunities to catch up with friends and family and have a few drinks. Unfortunately, when people go overboard with alcohol it can cause problems ranging from accidents and injuries to relationship and work problems to acts of violence,” he said.

“Alcohol costs the public health sector $655 million a year,” he said. “Other costs include about $1.17 billion in lost productivity and $200 million in social welfare and $330 million in other government spending.”

Mr Vaughan said ALAC recommended taking some simple steps to help make sure that celebrations did not get out of hand.

  • Make sure there are plenty of non-alcohol and low-alcohol options at get togethers so people have a choice about what they drink and can take a break from drinking alcohol.

  • Provide substantial food.

  • Watch the size of the drinks you’re having. Remember a standard drinkA drink containing 10 grams of alcohol. is one small wine glass and not a bucket!

  • Plan how to get home safely if you’re drinking - or if you’re the host make sure your guests do the same.

  • If you’re out for the night, decide on a limit of how much you plan to drink, and stick to it - or have less. Avoid rounds. Round buying often means you drink more than you want.

  • Say ‘no’ to top ups. You won’t be able to keep track of how much you are drinking. Also, don’t let anyone pressure you into having another drink. Have excuses planned, such as ‘No thanks, I’ve had enough – I’ve got a lot on tomorrow.’

Other safe drinking tips are available on the ALAC website at

For further information contact ALAC CEO Gerard Vaughan on 04 917 0060