Tobacco and alcohol leading causes of drug-related deaths

Alcohol is the elephant in the room in living and emergency rooms across the nation, with consumption unblinkingly accepted despite the harms associated with drinking being equivalent to or greater than the harms linked to illicit drugs. 

Albury Wodonga Health Nurse Gary Croton said tobacco and alcohol, not illegal substances, were the leading causes of drug-related death in Australia. 

With the draft National Alcohol Strategy found 5500 estimated deaths were attributable to alcohol annually. 

Mr Croton said part of the problem was that people did not categorise alcohol in league as illegal substances, or recognise its true impact and danger.  

“It really is the elephant in the room, alcohol, and the damage from alcohol,” he said.

“It’s legal, people don’t see it as harmful because it’s promoted through advertising and subtle advertising, it’s not addressed as robustly as some other drugs.”


Mr Croton said there were significant costs associated with alcohol on a personal, economical, and societal level. 

“A lot of the data speaks for itself, alcohol is associated with a host of physical illnesses, exacerbating physical illness, alcohol is closely linked to domestic violence, linked with mental health,” he said.

“Then there’s the economic cost associated with alcohol through lost productivity, health care, justice and avoidable injuries.”

The Foundation for Alcohol Research Education found 15 Australians die each day, while 430 are hospitalised because of alcohol. 

Usage not only affects the drinker, but costs the community $11 billion annually.