Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 03 February 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol/alcohol-tobacco-other-drugs-australia
Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 14 December 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol/alcohol-tobacco-other-drugs-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2023 Feb. 3]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol/alcohol-tobacco-other-drugs-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia, viewed 3 February 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol/alcohol-tobacco-other-drugs-australia
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The use of alcohol and other drugs has a number of economic impacts relating to household expenditure, decreased productivity and healthcare and law enforcement costs.
In recent years, the separate costs of tobacco, opioid use, cannabis, methamphetamine and alcohol use in Australia have been estimated using different methodologies.
The estimated social cost of alcohol use in Australia was $66.8 billion in 2017–2018. Of the total tangible amount, workplace costs were $4.0 billion, with an estimated $3.6 billion due to absenteeism. This was followed by crime ($3.1 billion), total healthcare costs ($2.8 billion) and road traffic crashes ($2.4 billion). Of the total intangible amount, premature death was $25.9 billion and lost quality of life was $20.7 billion (Whetton et al. 2021).
The estimated social cost for tobacco use in 2015–16 was $136.9 billion. While, this is substantially higher than the previous national estimate of $31.5 billion in 2004–05 (Collins and Lapsley, 2008), the difference is likely to be primarily due to differences in the approaches used to determine the estimates (Whetton et al. 2019). The most significant costs were related to the value of life lost, and pain and suffering caused by smoking attributable ill–health and premature mortality, spending on tobacco by dependent smokers, workplace costs and the reduction in economic output due to premature mortality (Whetton et al. 2019).
Opioid use, including the use of any illegal opioids and the use of pharmaceutical opioids not as prescribed, was estimated to cost $15.76 billion in 2015–16. Premature mortality, criminal justice and other health care were the leading sources of costs. Tentative estimates were reported separately for: the loss of quality of life for co-residents (e.g. partners and children) due to the substance use of others–$11.98 billion; and reduced quality of life for the drug consumer–$14.93 billion (Whetton et al. 2020).
The social cost of cannabis use was estimated to be $4.5 billion in 2015–16. More than half (54%, or $2.4 billion) of this cost was related to the criminal justice system, including imprisonment, administering community supervision orders and the impact on victims of crime. Although cannabis has the highest reported prevalence of consumption in Australia, the social costs attributed to cannabis were much lower than those for opioid use. This may be due to the fewer deaths attributed to cannabis use as compared with those attributed to the use of pharmaceutical opioids not as prescribed (Whetton et al. 2020b).
The estimated social cost attributable to methamphetamine use in 2013–14 was just over $5 billion dollars. This included costs associated with a range of domains including: prevention, harm reduction and treatment; health care; premature mortality; crime; child maltreatment and protection; workplace accidents and productivity (Whetton et al. 2016).
Latest available household expenditure data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicate that the proportion of household expenditure on alcohol and tobacco use has decreased over time.
This figure shows that there has been a decline in the proportion of total goods and services expenditure for alcoholic beverages (2.2% of total expenditure in 2015–16) and tobacco products (0.9%) from 1984 to 2015–16.
In 2019, almost 2 in 5 (38%) employed people reported missing at least 1 day of work in the previous 3 months due to illness or injury (regardless of drug use) (AIHW 2020, Table 4.33). Overall, 2.7% of recent illicit drug users missed 1 day of work in the last 3 months due to their drug use, with recent meth/amphetamines users (8.0%) and ecstasy users (6.3%) more likely to report that they had missed work than cannabis and pain-killer/opioid users (AIHW 2020).
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2017. Household Expenditure Survey, Australia: Summary of Results, 2015-16. ABS cat. no. 6530.0. Canberra: ABS. Viewed 4 January 2018.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2020. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Drug statistics series no. 32. Cat. no. PHE 270. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 16 July 2020.
Manning M, Smith C & Mazerolle P 2013. The societal costs of alcohol misuse in Australia. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice No. 454. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. Viewed 4 April 2018.
Whetton S, Tait R.J, Gilmore W, Dey T, Agramunt S, Abdul Halim S, McEntee A, Mukhtar A, Roche A, Allsop S & Chikritzhs T. 2021 Examining the Social and Economic Costs of Alcohol Use in Australia: 2017/18, Perth, WA, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, accessed 23 February 2022.
Whetton S, Shanahan M, Cartwright K, Duraisingam V, Ferrante A, Gray D et al. 2016. The social costs of methamphetamine in Australia 2013/14. National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia.
Whetton S, Tait R, Scollo M, Banks E, Chapman J, Dey T et al. 2019. Identifying the Social Costs of Tobacco Use to Australia in 2015/16. National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. Viewed 22 October 2019.
Whetton S, Tait R, Chrzanowka A, Donnelly N, McEntee, Muhktar A et al. 2020. Quantifying the social costs of pharmaceutical opioid misuse & illicit opioid use to Australia in 2015/16. National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. Viewed 14 May 2020.
Whetton S, Tait R, Chrzanowka A, Donnelly N, McEntee, Muhktar A et al. 2020b. Quantifying the social costs of cannabis use to Australia in 2015/16. National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. Viewed 7 August 2020.
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