November 23, 2022
WRAD has increased its services and called for an end to stigma as the economic and social costs of addiction spirals.
A new report launched this week at Parliament House in Canberra estimated addiction in Australia to cost $80 billion a year.
The report titled Understanding the Cost of Addiction in Australia by KPMG and Rethink Addiction highlights the significant costs associated with alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and gambling, including on workplace and household productivity, harmful consumption and healthcare.
KPMG and Rethink Addiction called for urgent investment in prevention, early intervention, and harm reduction to enable “Australians living with addiction to live healthier, happier and more productive lives”.
WRAD operations manager Mark Powell said the cost of addiction went well beyond economics with its impact on people and families.
“It’s time to make a change,” he said. “As a community we need to reduce stigma and promote help-seeking. Too many people wait too long to access help. We need to remove barriers to treatment and create a shift in thinking that getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”
WRAD is making services more readily available with an after-hours clinic introduced as another option to increase accessibility to support and treatment for substance use and other health issues.
“The economic cost of addiction is over $80 billion and the biggest harms come from legal substances such as alcohol, cigarettes with other drugs and gambling much less so.” Mr Powell said.
WRAD wants to empower people to access help early so they are in control as opposed to being crisis driven through homelessness, family breakdown, serious health issues or court mandates.
“Some of the barriers come from lack of knowledge of the services available but also from misinformation and myths about what getting help might look like for people,” Mr Powell said.
“Too many people normalise use of the legal substances and it’s not until it gets quite problematic that they seek help. We want the community to learn more about addiction and substance use to make better informed choices.”
The Understanding the Cost of Addiction in Australia report also determined the intangible costs of addiction, such as reduced quality of life or the value placed on lost years of life.
It also found that stigma is a barrier. “Roughly half a million Australians can’t access the help they need due to a lack of available treatment or fear of judgement,” it states.
“Stigma causes many to wait years, even decades, before seeking help for their struggles with alcohol, other drugs, or gambling. Tackling stigma will reduce help-seeking and treatment delays and have many other positive effects.
“We need to make responding to addiction a national priority, tackle stigma to promote help seeking, and reprioritise investment to support a public health approach to addiction-related harms.
For drug and alcohol issues, call Directline 1800 888236, or WRAD 55 645777
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WRAD HEALTH’s vision is to advance the health and wellbeing of those in the South Western Region of Victoria affected by Addictive behaviours and to promote optimal enjoyment of life.
WRAD HEALTH seeks to provide comprehensive, holistic support and treatment to individuals and others affected by addictive behaviors and associated issues.
The philosophy of harm minimisation underpins the delivery of all programs offered by WRAD HEALTH. This principle recognises that people in our society use both licit and illicit drugs, and that drugs can be used in ways that are more or less harmful to individuals, families and society. Harm minimisation offers a number of options designed to reduce the harm of drug use to the user and society.
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For medical issues call South West Healthcare 55 631666
For mental health issues call SWH emergency dep't 55 631 666 or 1800 808 284
For drug and alcohol issues call Directline 1800 888 236
For Lifeline call 13 11 14
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