Report on Auckland's drinking grim

23:56, Sep 03 2014
PROBLEM DRINKING: Aucklanders are the country's heaviest drinkers.

Aucklanders are the heaviest drinkers in the country and are more likely to have drink-driving related accidents and to be sent to hospital with alcohol-related problems.

A snapshot of alcohol-related harm released today by Auckland's alcohol executive planning group paints a grim picture of alcohol use and abuse in New Zealand's biggest city.

The group includes the police, the regional public health service, Maori public health and the health promotion agency among others. Data analysed was collated from 2013.

Alcohol-related crashes were 28 per cent more likely in Auckland than the national average. Auckland drivers aged 18-19 and 20-24 had the highest rates of alcohol-related crashes resulting in injury or death. Among drivers aged 18 and 19 the rate was 38 per cent higher in the Auckland region than the national average.

Eight per cent of Auckland drinkers drank more than eight drinks per session. Nationally, only 6.5 per cent of drinkers drank more than eight drinks per session.

Alcohol-related hospitalisations were 11 per cent higher than the national rate. Most hospitalisations were due to mental and behavioural disorders due to use of alcohol, for example, acute intoxication, dependence and psychosis.

Alcohol Healthwatch group co-ordinator Rebecca Williams said the data were deeply concerning and highlighted the need for affirmative action, especially with the local alcohol policy deliberations now under way.

"We wanted to share the findings with Aucklanders so they were more aware of the issues, and could all be part of creating a safer, healthier city," Williams said.

Auckland had large numbers of late-trading liquor outlets and these were concentrated in part of the city. 

The Otara Gambling and Alcohol Action Group (OGAAG) said it was not surprised by the information about alcohol-related harm in Auckland released today.

OGAAG spokeswoman Yvonne Matson said the material released by Auckland's Alcohol Executive Planning Group confirmed what her group had known for some time, which was that alcohol-related harm was worse in Auckland than elsewhere.

"We have got far too many liquor outlets, that are open for too many hours and who are promoting alcohol to our community 24/7.  The harm follows," she said