In Australia excessive alcohol consumption is a huge burden on society, not only as a direct result of death and disease but also due to the effects that it has on the families, and local communities such as criminal activity, vandalism, aggression and inability to maintain work. In 2003 alcohol accounted for 3.3% of the burden of disease in Australia (NHRA ). An estimated 3,200 people die annually due to excessive consumption of alcohol and there are 81,000 people hospitalised for this reason.( Aust. Govt 2012). It is unknown how many hospital admissions are indirectly due to alcohol consumption but it is estimated that there are huge numbers as alcohol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, overweight and obesity, risks to unborn babies, liver disease, mental health conditions and dementia, self-harm and trauma to both the drinker and others.
As an intensive care nurse I have experienced first hand the effects of alcohol in relation to traffic accidents, aggression and violent acts to others, health personnel, police and other emergency services.
Alcohol in Australia is a socially acceptable activity. Social events revolve around drinking and sports, such as football, are sponsored by alcohol companies. Early childhood education about the effects of alcohol need to be undertaken – a policy based, public health intervention.