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Alcohol and health implications
Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the main preventable public health problems in Australia, with alcohol being second only to tobacco as a preventable cause of drug-related death and hospitalisation.
Long term adverse effects of high consumption of alcohol on health include contribution to cardiovascular disease, some cancers, nutrition-related conditions, risks to unborn babies, cirrhosis of the liver, mental health conditions, tolerance and dependence, long term cognitive impairment, and self-harm.
Some research suggests that at low levels of consumption, alcohol may reduce the risk of some cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disorders, while other research suggests that there may be no protective effect from drinking.
The guidelines to reduce the health risks from drinking alcohol, published by the National Health and Medical Research Council in 2009, state that the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury is reduced by drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day when drinking alcohol. These guidelines also state that drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.
Harm from alcohol-related accident or injury is experienced disproportionately by younger people; over half of all serious alcohol-related road injuries occur among 15–24-year-olds. However, harm from alcohol-related disease is more marked among older people.
The Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Office (MHDAO) is responsible for developing, managing and coordinating NSW Ministry of Health policy and strategy relating to mental health and the prevention and management of alcohol and drug-related harm. Further details can be found at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mhdao/Pages/default.aspx.
Information on the programs available for the prevention and management of alcohol-related harm can be found at: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/programs/da/Publications/reducing-alcohol-harm-snapshot.pdf and http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/healthyliving/Pages/default.aspx
National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Canberra: NHMRC, 2009. Available at: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/file/publications/synopses/ds10-alcohol.pdf
NSW Ministry of Health. Reducing alcohol-related harm snapshot, 2016. Available at: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/programs/da/Publications/reducing-alcohol-harm-snapshot.pdf
Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Office (MHDAO), NSW Ministry of Health at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mhdao/Pages/default.aspx
Healthy Living, NSW Health. Available at: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/healthyliving/Pages/default.aspx
Australian Bureau of Statistics at http://www.abs.gov.au
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare at http://www.aihw.gov.au
healthdirect at http://www.healthdirect.gov.au