Alcohol facts

Alcohol is our most common recreational drug.

Like tobacco, the harmful effects are not limited to just the consumer. The second hand harms from alcohol consumption affects most NZ’ers in one way or another. This updated ‘10 MUST KNOW FACTS about our favourite drug’ special edition newsletter covers the 10 facts and myths you should know. It also reminds us that we all have a role to play in reducing the harm in New Zealand that is estimated to cost up to $6 billion dollars per year. Let’s start by looking closer to home for the changes we can make and not just putting the onus on the Government.

Mauri ora, Dave Hookway
Click here to download the below 10 facts

  1. New Zealanders spend $85 million dollars on alcohol a week. $4.5 billion dollars per year.
  2. In one year we drink 457 million litres of alcohol. An average of 2 standard drinks for every person aged 15 years and over, per day.
  3. More than 62,000 physical assaults and 10,000 sexual assaults occur every year which involve a perpetrator who has been drinking, approximately 200 people affected every day.
  4. Approximately $400,000 is spent each day promoting alcohol in New Zealand. $150 million dollars per year. Read references here.
  5. Car crashes involving someone else’s drinking were responsible for an annual average of 5,535 injuries to innocent victims, including 60 deaths, over 15 people hurt or killed every day. Read references here.
  6. In a year – 147,500 adults take one or more days off work or school due to their alcohol use.
  7. The perception that the European model of introducing young people to alcohol at an early age is effective in reducing alcohol-related harm is wrong. French rates of liver Cirrhosis are more than 400% higher than NZ rates and binge drinking is still a major problem. Read references here.
  8. One in six adults aged 16–64 years has experienced harmful effects on their friendships or social life, home life or financial position in the past year due to someone else’s alcohol use. Read references here.
  9. Alcohol causes cancer. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of many cancers including breast cancer, bowel cancer and cancers of the liver and upper digestive tract (mouth, throat, larynx and oesophagus). Breast cancer is the number one cause of death related to alcohol in New Zealand women.
  10. In New Zealand – about 1 in 10 pregnant women drinks alcohol at levels that definitely puts their babies at risk for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and as a result there could be up to 3,000 babies born every year with FASD. Around 8 babies born every day affected by alcohol in NZ.

Click here to download the Law Commission Report “Alcohol in our Lives: Curbing the Harm”



Reducing alcohol-related harm  – NZ Medical Association policy briefing paper – The NZMA believes that doctors have a key role and an ethical responsibility to advocate for their patients, as well as for improved population health and health equity. Improved policies to reduce alcohol-related harms are central to securing better health outcomes for all New Zealanders.

Alcohol Action New Zealand –  a comprehensive set of resources and links to research for change in alcohol policy.

Safer Drinking Guidelines – a wallet sized fold-up card with information about standard drinks, recommended long-term drinking guidelines and brief information. Produced by Northland DHB, these are available free for use throughout Northland – to order click here.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy. A literature review A comprehensive NZ report on alcohol and pregnancy – in a downloadable pdf file., which provides health professional resources, a summary of alcohol and pregnancy evidence, information about the ‘Don’t Know. Don’t Drink’ campaign and other information and support.

Cancer Society of New Zealand – Position statement on Alcohol and Cancer Risk. The most recent report with facts, figures and policy advice.

Ministry of Health free online learning – a new online learning module is now available free of charge for health practitioners, and is designed to raise awareness of alcohol-related harm in NZ, and promote the ABC Alcohol approach, using motivational interviewing. The new module provides training and support to ensure competency in providing screening, brief advice and referrals for patients with hazardous or harmful alcohol behaviours. The course is available at here under ‘New Courses’ and the ‘Featured Courses’ sections. Completion of the course earns CME credits.


Events – Training

Certificate of Achievement in Introducing Health Promotion – Auckland

This interactive course relates theory to students’ own experiences, knowledge and skills and is fun. It is part time, with two, four day blocks “on course”. The course contributes to an introductory knowledge of the Nga Kaiakatanga Hauora mo Aotearoa Health Promotion Competencies for Aotearoa New Zealand competency statements. It is run over 2 blocks of 4 days.

Dates:  BLOCK ONE: Tuesday 25 – Friday 28 August
BLOCK TWO: Tuesday 22 – Friday 25 September

To Register: Please go to their website by clicking here and complete the online registration form. Contact Emma Frost on or 09 300 3734 for any inquiries.


Public Health Association Conference 2015 – 7-9 September – Dunedin

The 2015 conference will consider how to make public health everybody’s business, while exploring how to embed effective public health approaches across all of New Zealand society. This includes considering the contributions of all parts of society: government and councils; communities; charities; business and commerce; groups; and individuals.

Themes for this year’s conference include: Commerce and public health; Civic action for a civil society; The economics of well being; Strategies for tackling obesity; Big data –a new epidemiology?; and  The future of public health.

Early bird registrations are open now – click here for more information.


Free L.E.A.P. Training comes to Northland

The LEAP™ one day training program teaches families and whanau how to better understand and strengthen their relationships with a loved one, and how to assist them in engaging with people who are trying to help them. LEAP™ (Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner™) shows you how to quickly gain the trust of someone you are in conflict with. When you Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner™, you stop trying to force your adversary to say he\she is wrong and begin to listen in a new way that immediately lowers anger and defensiveness, conveys genuine understanding, empathy, and respect for his point of view, even when you disagree with it

Kaitaia – Far North REAP – 3 Puckney Ave.  Wednesday 12th August 9.30am – 4pm

Whangarei – Brenda Gardner Lounge – 71 Bank St. Thursday 13th August, 9.30am – 4pm

Light lunch and refreshments provided at each event.

To book – contact


Need more help?

If you are concerned about your own drinking or that of someone close to you, contact the free Alcohol Drug Helpline on Ph 0800-787-797 from 10am to 10pm every day, free text adh to 234. or visit their website

Remember – In an Emergency – Dial 111


Compiled and produced by:

Dave Hookway  – Health Promotion Advisor – Alcohol and other Drugs

Northland District Health Board – 55 Hobson Ave, Kerikeri

Postal address: – PO Box 906, Kerikeri 0230, Bay of Islands

Ph (09) 430-4101 x 7895 | Mob 021-221-4027

Click here to email