The health and social harms of alcohol use are wide ranging. Harmful alcohol use has been linked to over 200 diseases and injuries. The impact of harmful alcohol use can occur quickly (short-term harms) or over a long time (long-term harms). It can also cause harm to other people.
Short-term harms include alcohol poisoning, and injury from violence and accidents. Examples of long-term harms include liver disease, alcohol use disorder, various cancers and dementia. Harms to other people can come from unintentional injury (eg traffic, fire), miscarriage, or foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Overall 5.1% of the global burden of disease and injury is due to alcohol. In New Zealand, alcohol use contributed around 4% of overall health loss and 24% of injury-related health loss in 2006.
Currently, the EHINZ programme has the following indicators of alcohol-related harm:
- Hazardous drinking
- Heavy episodic drinking
- Hospitalisations wholly attributable to alcohol
- Mortality wholly attributable to alcohol
- Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes (on hold)
- Injury outcomes of alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes (on hold)
- Alcohol outlet licence density
The purpose of these indicators is to monitor key harmful health outcomes, and associated features of the alcohol environment, in order to:
- help track the collective effect of actions to reduce alcohol-related harm (over the medium to long term)
- inform policies and interventions
- raise awareness of the harms from alcohol use
- raise awareness of the environmental influences on alcohol use and harm
- provide information at the local and regional area.