Alcohol is a killer

Around 1700 Australians lost their lives in 2022 from a disease or illness that can be directly attributed to alcohol use. Credit Pikist

Police conduct alcohol testing on our roads and companies like Integrity Sampling conduct alcohol testing in our workplaces, to reduce the deaths and injuries caused by alcohol. However, it’s not just on our roads and in our workplaces where alcohol kills. Alarmingly, nearly 1700 people lost their lives due to alcohol last year in Australia and that number is on the rise.

Alcohol-induced deaths on the rise

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines alcohol-induced deaths as those where the underlying cause can be directly attributed to alcohol use. This includes acute conditions such as alcohol poisoning or chronic conditions such as alcoholic liver cirrhosis.

According to the ABS’s Causes of Death 2022 report, released last week, the number of alcohol-induced deaths is on the rise. There were 1742 alcohol-induced deaths in Australia in 2022. This is an increase of 9.1% – or 164 additional deaths – on the 2021 figures. In addition:

  • The age-standardised rate for alcohol-induced deaths (rate of deaths per 100,000 people) was 8.7 for males and 3.4 for females. These are the highest rates recorded in the past 10 years.
  • The largest increases in 2022 came from females aged in the 45 to 64 year age group and males aged 65 to 84 years.

Increase sounds alarm for Alcohol and Drug Foundation

According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) the spike in alcohol-induced deaths should sound an alarm for people.

ADF CEO, Dr Erin Lalor, said the increase in the death rate from 2021, driven by complications associated with chronic alcohol use, reiterated the need for greater action to stop the numbers rising.

“These heartbreaking deaths, which are mostly preventable, have a ripple effect on the community, with friends and families suffering,” Dr Lalor said.

The ADF is urging greater investment in evidence-based prevention, harm reduction, and treatment services, stronger regulations around the availability and promotion of alcohol and targeted interventions with vulnerable populations, including people with long-term alcohol use problems.

“By supporting people to seek help and directing them to the best services and programs for their circumstances, we can shift attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol and encourage early behaviour change.”

The ADF encourages people to seek support and advice from their website, the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline 1800 250 015 and organisations and support services such as Path2Help.

Drug-induced deaths fall

It’s not all bad news. The Causes of Death 2022 report also noted that there was a drop in the number of drug-induced deaths. The number of deaths directly attributable to drug use was 1693 in 2022, compared with 1788 in 2021.

Like alcohol-induced deaths, males are overrepresented in the figures. Males who are dying due to drug use are also dying younger than females. The median age at death for males in 2022 was 45.4 years, compared with 50.0 years for females.

Opioids (for example, fentanyl, oxycodone, morphine and heroin) was the most common drug class involved in drug-induced deaths.

Injuries caused by alcohol and drugs

Around the same time as the release of the ABS reports comes data from a Monash University-led study into injuries caused by alcohol and drugs.

While injuries and deaths caused by alcohol and drugs is a major concern on our roads and in our workplace, they’re not the only area of concern. The report found that many people are admitted to hospital due to falls, self-harm and violence caused by alcohol and drugs.

The study took place between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2022 in Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital. Of 1248 people treated by the trauma team at the hospital for serious non-transport injuries, 37.4% tested positive for alcohol or drugs.

Alcohol and drugs can truly be dangerous for your health and safety.


Around 1700 Australians lost their lives in 2022 from a disease or illness that can be directly attributed to alcohol use. Credit Pikist

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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