National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

The avoidable costs of alcohol abuse in Australia and the potential benefits of effective policies to reduce the social costs of alcohol

3. The aggregate social costs of alcohol

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The avoidable cost estimates presented later in this report are based upon the estimated aggregate social costs of alcohol abuse which are presented in Collins and Lapsley (2008a). This section provides an overall summary of all estimated alcohol-attributable costs. The derivation and interpretation of the following three tables are explained in considerable detail in Collins and Lapsley (2008a).

Table 1. Tangible social costs of alcohol abuse, 2004/05

$m
Labour in the workforce
Reduction in workforce
3,210.7
Absenteeism
367.9
Total
3,578.6
Labour in the household
Premature death
1,423.9
Sickness
146.9
Total
1,570.8
Total paid and unpaid labour costs
5,149.4
Less consumption resources saved
1,611.3
Total net labour costs
3,538.0
Healthcare (net)
Medical
540.7
Hospital
662.2
Nursing homes
401.2
Pharmaceuticals
297.6
Ambulances
74.8
Total healthcare
1,976.7
Road accidents n.e.i.
2,202.0
Crime n.e.i.
Police
747.1
Criminal courts
85.8
Prisons
141.8
Property
67.1
Insurance administration
14.3
Productivity of prisoners
368.0
Total crime
1,424.0
Resources used in abusive consumption
1,688.8
Total
10,829.5

Note: n.e.i. denotes not elsewhere included.
Source: Table 33, Collins and Lapsley (2008a).


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Table 2. Intangible social costs of alcohol abuse, 2004/05

$m
Loss of life
4,135.0
Pain and suffering (road accidents)
353.6
Total intangible costs
4,488.7

Source: Table 34, Collins and Lapsley (2008a).

Table 3. Total social costs of alcohol abuse, 2004/05

$m
Tangible
10,829.5
Intangible
4,488.7
Total
15,318.2

Source: Table 35, Collins and Lapsley (2008a).

Collins and Lapsley also calculate the tangible social costs which are borne by the community as a result of alcohol and illicit drugs being consumed together, with these costs not being attributable solely to one or other of these drugs. These costs amounted to $1,057.8m.

The total social costs of alcohol abuse (both tangible and intangible) in 2004/05 are estimated to be, at a minimum, $15.3 billion, with a further $1.1 billion attributable to the joint consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs.

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