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Hazardous drinkers top three-quarters of a million

Number of hazardous drinkers now tops three-quarters of a million

Alcohol Healthwatch is disappointed, but not surprised, with new statistics from the Ministry of Health showing no change in New Zealand’s hazardous drinking culture.

Results from the large New Zealand Health Survey show that one in every five New Zealanders aged 15 years and over was classified as a hazardous drinker.

Executive Director Dr Nicki Jackson says “with our business-as-usual approach to reducing alcohol harm in our country, we now have an estimated 775,000 hazardous drinkers. This burden will add to the massive strain that our Emergency Departments and hospitals already face and places us all at risk of being harmed. Our drinking culture continues to hinder the huge potential of our amazing country.”

The data show that males (27%) were twice as likely as females (13%) to be hazardous drinkers and that more than one-third (38%) of young males aged 18 to 24 years and one-quarter (25%) of young females were hazardous drinkers.

Dr Jackson says “We still have high levels of hazardous drinking amongst our middle-aged and older age groups. Persistent inequities also remain with Māori women being twice as likely to be hazardous drinkers than European women. It is not right that more than 800 New Zealanders die prematurely every year as a result of their alcohol use.”

“With the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry due to report this month, these statistics should be sobering news. We know that almost two-thirds of all New Zealanders who committed suicide had a trace or more of alcohol in their system. Alcohol use is the second strongest risk factor for suicide, following depression.”

“We cannot accept a business-as-usual approach to the most harmful drug in our society. With more hazardous drinkers in our country, we are all placed at risk of harm. Other countries, such as Ireland, are taking strong and effective action on alcohol to protect their people. It is time that we followed suit.”

ENDS

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