Comprehensive and long-term funding is needed to address the growing problem of drug and alcohol abuse, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) President Dr Catherine Yelland said today.
Around 200,000 people receive treatment for drug and alcohol dependency every year in Australia. Government modelling, however, shows that between 200,000 and 500,000 people are still waiting to access treatment services.
“The data on drug and alcohol addiction and the rate of unmet need is very confronting,” Dr Yelland said.
“Modelling data suggests approximately 50 per cent of people who are dependent on cannabis and other illicit drug addictions cannot access treatment, while approximately 70 per cent of people who need treatment for alcohol addiction can’t access it.
“We want to work with the Government to build the capacity of the sector and ensure we have a suitably trained, multidisciplinary workforce to provide these services.”
In its recently released pre-budget submission, the RACP outlines ways to address risky drinking and reduce the availability of cheap alcohol as a means of minimising alcohol-related harms.
The RACP recommends abolishing the Wine Equalisation Tax and replacing it with a volumetric tax – as already is the case for beer and spirits.
“The volumetric taxation system is based on a product’s alcohol content as opposed to wine which is currently taxed based on its wholesale price,” Dr Yelland said.
“The current approach encourages the production of cheap wine which is usually purchased by young people and people with severe alcohol dependence.”
The costs for alcohol-related illness and injuries is between $15 billion and $36 billion - or around $605 - $1452 per person – each year. The tax revenue currently generated from alcohol sales is around $6 billion a year.
A copy of the RACP’s pre-budget submission is available here.