Increasing the price of alcohol, limiting the number and density of outlets selling alcohol and raising the age when you can buy alcohol are among new recommendations from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.
In its latest Position Statement ‘Recognising and reducing alcohol related harm’ the RANZCP also calls for independent regulation of the marketing and advertising of alcohol with consideration of mandatory health-warning labelling and specific legislation addressing the promotion and advertising of alcohol to young people.
‘The RANZCP is deeply concerned that the Australian and New Zealand drinking culture makes excessive drinking a widely acceptable behaviour when really it should be viewed as quite the opposite’ RANZCP President, Professor Malcolm Hopwood said.
‘While many of us enjoy alcohol safely and responsibly in moderation, for some people it is an addictive and dangerous substance. Every year we as health professionals see the significant harm done by excessive alcohol consumption in Australia and New Zealand.
‘Excessive alcohol consumption has a considerable detrimental effect on our community contributing to physical injuries, crime, violence including family violence, treatment costs, loss of productivity, absenteeism and premature death or disability estimated to cost $15 billion per year in Australia.
‘Its impact on mental health is also substantial and can cause impairment of brain function and long-term brain injury and promote the development of mental health conditions including depression and anxiety. In the long term it is associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, a number of cancers, diabetes and chronic liver disease.
‘The combination of alcohol misuse and depression also presents a tragically high-risk profile for suicidal behaviour,’ Professor Hopwood said.
The RANZCP argues that for alcohol, like other substances associated with harms to health such as tobacco, increased investment in evidence-based policies and treatment strategies should be implemented to minimise harms.’
The RANZCP new Position Statement 87 ‘Recognising and reducing alcohol-related harm’ lists 17 strong recommendations aimed at reducing alcohol related harm including recommendations to introduce and fund intervention programs for primary care, community care and in emergency department settings.
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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org.