Reducing Harmful Drinking
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Reducing Harmful Drinking book
There can be no doubting the great cost of alcohol-related harm in social, health, and economic terms. Estimates in Australia, Canada, and the United States indicate that alcohol accounts for 2% to 3% of total mortality, as well as for large numbers of hospitalizations. The economic costs of alcohol misuse have been estimated in the billions of dollars, accounting for 1.1% of gross domestic product in Canada (Single, Robson, Xie, & Rehm, 1998), 1.4% in Australia (Collins & Lapsley, 1991 ), and 1.7% in the United States (Rice, Kelman, Miller, & Dunmeyer, 1990). This chapter outlines a risk-and harm-reduction approach to reducing alcohol-related harm that is concerned with the overall amounts of alcohol people drink, their patterns of consumption over time and place, and other individual and environmental factors that increase risk. Although drinking is not inevitably harmful, certain patterns and levels of drinking increase the risk of various harms-risk that in tum, is further increased by a host of other factors. A comprehensive national strategy to address alcohol problems must seek to reduce the extent to which people engage in a variety of high-risk drinking patterns.