Alcohol consumption over an acceptable limit known as hazardous of harmful alcoholism is linked with many adverse consequences ranging from individual health effects to behavioral and social effects; violence and increased crime rates. Thomas Jordan Jarvis (1836–1915) stated ‘Intoxicating liquor creates lawlessness, makes criminals, wrecks homes and brings trouble to innocent women and children.’ This quote from the 19th century still holds true today.
The evidence for the effectiveness of public health policies to control hazardous alcoholism is unambiguous, and countries around the world implement many strategies to manage alcohol overuse. As with any other phenomenon, the prevalence of harmful alcohol use varies among many countries and various regions within the countries. It is a well-known anecdote amongst public health fraternity that we need to “think globally-but act locally”, in line with the same concept, variance in prevalence among different regions calls for specific interventions for specific needs.
The Northern Territory(NT) in Australia, taking note of aggravated issue of alcoholism undertook an Alcohol Policy and Legislation Review that first determined the extent of the problem stating that NT has the highest rate of per capita consumption of alcohol, and also highest rates of hazardous alcohol use (44% of adults). The review also revealed that 40 % of roadside accidents in NT are alcohol-related and it’s a primary reason for hospitalization in the area. The report also suggested many recommendations to the government to amend existing alcohol policy and legislation. Translating all these suggestions into actions is a complex process as they have many political and business implications. Likewise, Northern territory government knocked down one recommendation; Sunday ban on sales, while promised to examine at length the suggestions to control “density” of liquor licenses before giving a response. However, on the brighter side, the government agreed to implement a floor price on alcohol products to control alcohol-related harms and imposed a ban on takeaway alcohol licenses. Government also legislated to make it an offense for a person to operate or navigate a boat with a breath or blood alcohol content equivalent to the levels in prescribed in the Traffic Act
Alcohol over-use is a multifactorial problem affecting not only drinkers but putting the safety of others at risk as well. Therefore, creating effective alcohol control policies can’t be achieved just by expert’s opinions and government legislation, but need concerted efforts by all stakeholders including businesses, community groups, and individuals through participation in dialogues, surveys, and other relevant public forums.