Alcohol ranked most harmful drug in Australia, says report

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation are calling for a new national strategy to reduce the harm caused by alcohol abuse which is ranking more harmful than crystal meth.


The Alcohol and Drug Foundation is calling for more investment in prevention. Source: AAP

Alcohol and crystal methamphetamine have been ranked as the most harmful drugs in Australia, with experts warning that more prevention is needed to protect the health of the nation. 

In a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, alcohol has been ranked the number one most harmful drug to both individuals and others, because of the number of drug-related deaths, injuries, family adversity and economic costs of alcohol abuse.

Crystal methamphetamine ranked second, scoring highly on loss of relationships, injury, crime and deaths.


According to the study, Australia differs from the UK and the European Union, where heroin is ranked the second most overall harmful substance after alcohol. In Australia, heroin is ranked third.

“Harms from alcohol and other drugs, including crystal methamphetamine are preventable. Long term investments in prevention are critical in building a healthier Australia,” said the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s CEO, Dr Erin Lalor.  

Alcohol has 'no health benefits'

“Every year in Australia, there are approximately 157,000 hospitalisations and 5,500 deaths from alcohol-related injuries, illnesses and accidents. All are preventable,” said the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s CEO Dr Lalor.

“There are no health benefits from alcohol. Cutting back can reduce a person’s risk of injuries and accidents, as well as the risk of developing chronic alcohol-related diseases such as cancer,” Dr Lalor remarked.    

“This review reaffirms the need for a new National Alcohol Strategy to help prevent and reduce alcohol-related harms,” Dr Lalor added.

More heroin in Victoria

Earlier this month a report by The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) revealed that urban Victorians consume more heroin than other Australians. The state's regions have recorded the highest use of MDMA and oxycodone.

According to the seventh National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program Victoria has the highest average capital city consumption and second highest average regional consumption of heroin in the country, and the highest average regional consumption of MDMA and oxycodone.

Of the states, NSW led the country in cocaine consumption, Queensland and South Australia favoured fentanyl while the Northern Territory had the highest consumption of alcohol and nicotine.

Western Australia continued to produce some of the highest meth consumption levels in capital city and regional areas while Tasmania had the highest average capital city consumption of MDMA, oxycodone, fentanyl and cannabis nationally.

“The Australian community continues to consume illicit drugs at concerning levels,” ACIC Chief Executive Officer Michael Phelan said.

3 min read
Published 23 June 2019 at 3:54pm
Source: SBS News