Alcohol 'worse than drugs' in Pacific: Australian report

Alcohol abuse is a bigger problem for Pacific communities than drugs, according to an Australian report, which links drinking to domestic violence and wide-ranging health problems.

The Burnet Institute survey, commissioned by the Australian National Council on Drugs, found that alcohol was the key area of concern in the Pacific, some of whose isolated communities are among the most impoverished in the world.

"It very clearly identifies alcohol as the main substance of concern in the Pacific region and shows that cannabis is the key illicit drug of concern in the region," said co-author Robert Power on Thursday.

"Significantly this really is the first time we have a much clearer picture of the extensive harm occurring in countries that are our neighbours. Alcohol is considered to be the major factor contributing to numerous health problems affecting people in the Pacific."

The report calls for Australian and New Zealand drink-makers, whose products are widely consumed in the Pacific, to help ease the problem. Recommendations include providing treatment programs and improving data collection.

"We see constantly the clear harm alcohol causes to the Australian community," said John Herron, chairman of the Australian council.

"The rise of alcohol-related problems and the potential for it to escalate further in the Pacific is quite ominous - especially if we don't act now."

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