Taranaki has highest level of heavy drinking in New Zealand

May 28, 2019

Helen Harvey's recent article profiled the concerns of Taranaki District Health Board's Medical Officer of Health Jonathan Jarman, who says Kiwis have an "unhealthy love affair with alcohol"-  and it's worse in Taranaki.

Taranaki has the highest level of heavy drinking in New Zealand, almost twice the national average.  The region is ranked fifth when it comes to hospitalisations wholly attributable to alcohol in adults aged 15 years and older.  In Taranaki, 21.8 per cent of adults aged over 15 years indulged in episodic heavy drinking at least weekly in 2016/17. This percentage was significantly greater than the New Zealand prevalence of 11.7 per cent.

Jarman's observations included:

  • "It is not just a harmless commodity that you buy at the supermarket. It causes all sorts of problems. The most effective strategies to reduce alcohol-related harm require government regulation."
  • Alcohol related harm had an immense social cost. "As well as causing immediate harms like drink-driving fatalities and injuries, assaults and domestic violence, the regular consumption of alcohol is linked to long term harms such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, and alcohol dependence.
  • The harm from alcohol extends beyond the individual and can result in harm to others such as children (including those exposed to alcohol during pregnancy), whanau, friends, and the wider community.

Jarman joins the growing list of communty members who are concerned about the impact alcohol misuse is having on everyone's lives.  Taranaki Young People's Trust social worker and counsellor Bridget West noted the increase in harm to young people: 

  • More parents were supplying alcohol to young people, not just their own children but to their kids' friends, she said  "Instead of a couple of young people having a drink, there will be quite a mob of them at someone's home, because the parents will supply them with alcohol when their own parents won't. And kids are drinking a bit younger than they used to."

Concerned?  Want to be part of the solution?  The Taranaki Alcohol Harm Reduction Group would welcome your input - contact Alisha Stone for more informaiton and meeting details.