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New drinking stats show extra cause for concern

New drinking stats show extra cause for concern

Alcohol Healthwatch media release, 14 November 2019

Alcohol Healthwatch warns that data released from New Zealand’s largest annual health survey show that our drinking culture is continuing to move in the wrong direction. More New Zealanders are drinking and more are drinking heavily and frequently.

“Compared to last year, a significantly higher percentage of the population are choosing to drink,” says Executive Director Dr Nicki Jackson.

“One in every five New Zealanders continue to drink hazardously, and the total number of hazardous drinkers has increased to 787,000. Inequities in consumption, and therefore harm, have persisted and these are unjust.”

Dr Jackson says this increasing number of hazardous drinkers places more individuals, families and communities at risk of harm.

“Whilst it is pleasing to see that adolescents have maintained their lower levels of hazardous drinking, a high prevalence remains across all adult age-groups.”

She says of serious concern was the increase in the percentage of weekly heavy drinkers, now rising to 475,000 New Zealanders.

“More than one in five young adults are now drinking heavily at least weekly. We've also seen increases in regular heavy drinking among men, especially those of European/other ethnicity.

“If we are genuinely concerned about mental health and addiction in this country then we need to take urgent action, given the strong links between harmful alcohol use and suicide and the large number of New Zealanders who develop alcohol abuse and dependence by the age of 25.”

Dr Jackson says there is urgent need to reverse the increasing affordability of alcohol in our country, which is higher than it has ever been before.

“So many alcohol products are sold for under $1 per standard drink, and research shows that this fuels heavy and frequent drinking, especially among our young adults. Cheap alcohol, the high numbers of alcohol outlets in our neighbourhoods and the saturation of alcohol advertising and sponsorship, is preventing our country from making a meaningful difference to our mental health and wellbeing.

“Alcohol is, by far, our most harmful drug. We cannot let another year pass by without strong alcohol policies in place to protect us all and create a healthier, fairer society.”


Notes:

All data available from https://minhealthnz.shinyapps.io/nz-health-survey-2018-19-annual-data-explorer/_w_3bd2b02a/#!/home

In 2018/19:

• 80.3% of adults aged 15 and over drank alcohol in the past year (78.7% in 2017/18, a significant increase)

• 20.0% of adults aged 15 and over were classified as hazardous drinkers (19.8% in 2017/18, no significant change)

• 18.3% of adult men aged 15 and over drank 6 or more drinks on one occasion at least weekly (16.3% in 2017/18, a significant increase)

• 21.1% of 18-24-year-olds drank 6 or more drinks on one occasion at least weekly (16.5% in 2017/18, a significant increase)


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