Communities can’t stop binge drinking on their own – Study

Sydney Morning Herald 13 March 2014
Community action and education campaigns fail to curb binge drinking, assaults and serious alcohol-related harm, an Australian-first study has found.

Researchers say that without tighter legislation – including restrictions on availability, price and promotion of alcohol – basic action led by communities has no effect on dangerous drinking.

The five-year study, published in PLOS Medicine, implemented a range of measures in 10 of the 20 rural and regional NSW towns involved in the research.

The 13 actions, which included school education, media campaigns, GP advice and increased policing on high-risk weekends, cut weekly alcohol consumption by 20 per cent and reduced verbal abuse but made no difference to risky drinking, car accidents, hospital admissions and violence. 

”It is unreasonable to expect communities to deal with the problems that flow on from the fact that alcohol in Australia is relatively cheap and available everywhere,” said Anthony Shakeshaft, study leader and deputy director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

”Leaving communities to sort out their own alcohol problems is, quite simply, unlikely to work very well without government legislation.”