The first nationwide study on the prevalence of drinking problems in Australia has found that one in five of its citizens abuses or becomes addicted to alcohol in their lifetime.
And while the community is unworried about the situation, the author of the research said it is set to worsen because younger people report higher alcohol misuse rates.Every time I talk to people about alcohol figures it's as if they're not shocked. That's what bothers me," the Age quoted Maree Teesson, acting director of the National drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, as saying.
"Something is happening ... it's become more acceptable to drink at risky levels. It will take a major national response to turn this around," Teesson said.
Teesson's study, conducted against a backdrop of increasing alcohol sales, is the first in Australia to establish levels of problem drinking according to tightly defined health criteria.
It surveyed nearly 9000 adults Australia-wide, and found 3 percent had abused alcohol over the past year, while 1.4 percent were technically dependent on it.
Over their lives, 18 percent had abused alcohol and 3 percent were or had been addicted.
"Alcohol use disorders remain highly stigmatised [and] the treatment response ... is under funded and poorly co-ordinated," wrote Teesson.
"There is currently no rational process for deciding who among the 4.3 percent of Australians with an alcohol use disorder receives specialist treatment or for specifying which are the most effective treatments to provide," added Teesson.
Teesson's findings have been published in the journal Addiction.