Alcohol is a drug that acts as a depressant and slows down the brain and nervous system. It is the most widely used drug in Australia.
Drinking a small amount is not harmful for most people, but excessive drinking on any one occasion can cause health, personal and social problems (NSW Health, from www.yourroom.com.au)
Indigenous Australians experience harms associated with alcohol use, including deaths and hospitalisations, much more often than other Australians.
The harmful use of alcohol is a contributing factor in a wide range of social problems including:
- social disorder
- family breakdown
- child neglect
- loss of income including the loss of income due to the purchase of alcohol and other drugs
- high levels of imprisonment
Indigenous Australians die earlier than non-Indigenous Australians as a consequence of harmful alcohol use and alcohol-related conditions.
Approximately 7% of Indigenous Australian deaths are alcohol-related.
The Australian Alcohol Guidelines (2009) recommend:
- If you drink regularly, to stay healthy, drink no more than two standard drinks each day.
- On any single occasion, to stay healthy, drink no more than four standard drinks.
- Young people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol.
- The safest option for a pregnant or breastfeeding mother is not to drink alcohol.
Drinking less frequently, eg drinking weekly rather than daily, and drinking less on each occasion, reduces the lifetime risk of alcohol-related harm (NHMRC).
For more information, advice, campaigns and other resources about alcohol and other drugs, go to www.yourroom.com.au.