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Updated social and economic costs of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use in Australia

The George Institute for Global Health is pleased to collaborate with the NSW Ministry of Health to update estimates of the societal and economic costs of drug use in Australia to 2022/23.

This report builds on work by the National Drug Research Institute, which estimated the costs of tobacco, opioids, cannabis, methamphetamine, and alcohol, in different years over the period of 2016-2020. These estimates were updated for health care inflation to 2021/22 costs and projected to 2022/23 costs, by adjusting the costs reported for each substance by the relevant annual health price index (sourced from the AIHW).

This report highlights the substantial social costs associated with tobacco, opioids, cannabis, methamphetamine, and alcohol. In 2022/23, tangible costs are estimated to reach $60 billion, with an additional $205 billion lost due to premature mortality, lost productivity, and quality of life. Tobacco use was the largest contributor to costs ($160 billion), followed by alcohol use ($75 billion).

Understanding the magnitude of these social and economic costs is important to ensure alcohol and drug use receives appropriate policy responses and sufficient resource allocation to support effective prevention, early intervention, treatment, and harm reduction efforts.

This report was commissioned by, and written in collaboration with, the Centre for Alcohol and Other Drugs, NSW Ministry of Health. Read the full report here.

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