Examining the social and economic costs of alcohol use in Australia

August 2020

Professor Tanya Chikritzhs (Lead Investigator)
William Gilmore
Dr Robert Tait
Professor Steve Allsop
Aqif Mukhtar

Professor Ann Roche
Alice McEntee

Other investigators: 

Steve Whetton, South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, University of Adelaide

Project description: 

The social and economic costs of alcohol project will be the fifth in a series of social cost reports lead by NDRI on key illicit and licit drugs in Australia. This project follows from the analysis of costs arising from use of methamphetamine, tobacco, opioids, and cannabis. While each report has followed the same general method, there have been differences reflecting the availability of data and, in some domains, the unique costs associated with each drug. The alcohol report will most closely follow the method used in the analysis of tobacco related costs, particularly in the estimation of deaths and hospital inpatient care. As with the previous reports, the costs will also include: non-inpatient health care (eg GP, ED, ambulance services); workplace costs; criminal justice system; road traffic accidents; and other tangible costs. Further, the intangible costs of premature mortality are also eligible for inclusion.

Due to the scant literature on the harms to others arising from illicit substance use, these costs were estimated, but were not included in the overall figure in our previous analyses. Although there are more established methods in estimating the harms to others associated with alcohol, we will maintain consistency and, while providing an estimate, will exclude this cost from the headline total. Following the approach used in the tobacco analysis, costs related to education programs, prevention and media campaigns will also be estimated but not included. Similarly, revenue impacts will be estimated, but as transfer payments, these will not be included in the total cost.

The overall objective of the project is to produce a comprehensive analysis of the social costs of alcohol use in Australia using methods comparable with our previous analyses. As such, these reports will form the baseline position for future time-series analysis of the costs for each drug.