Alcohol and drug absenteeism cost $3 billion to the Australian economy: Study

By @Guneet_B on
(IN PHOTO)Men drink beer at a restaurant in Hanoi in this July 20, 2009 file photo. Alcohol and its consequences kill 2.3 million people a year around the world, according to the World Health Organisation: that amounts to 3.8 percent of all deaths, ranking drink just below unsafe sex and just above malnutrition in the top 10 causes of death. To match feature ALCOHOLISM/PILLS REUTERS

A number of countries across the world are struggling to fight the problem of alcohol and drug addiction, especially among the younger population. The scene is no different in Australia as well, it seems. A recent study revealed that drug and alcohol absenteeism costs more than $3 billion to the national economy since Australians seem to take a day off for an estimated 11.5 million days in a year.

The study – complete details of which have been published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health – revealed that the loss to the national economy from drug and alcohol-related absenteeism at the workplace has jumped from $1.2 billion in 2001 to $3 billion in 2015. The study was carried out by the researchers at the Flinders University's National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction analysis.

During the study, the researchers looked at the costs associated with the alcohol and other drug related absenteeism, or AOD, from the workplace across Australia. Using one approach, the researchers asked the people to self-report the number of such instances and found that 2.5 million days were lost in a year, costing around $680 million to the Australian economy.

In the second approach, the researchers calculated the mean difference between absence of AOD users compared to abstainers, reported The Australian. The team found that it costs nearly $3 billion to the national economy, with 11.5 million days associated with AOD.

"Often people will have a lot to drink on Friday or Saturday and then have diarrhoea or gastro type symptoms on a Monday morning that are a direct result of the alcohol, but they don't connect these with their drinking," explained Professor Anne Roche, the lead study author, in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.

To calculate the cost associated with the number of days an employee is not present at the workplace, the researchers multiplied the figure with $267.70, that is, the wage for one day plus 20 percent of the cost associated with the employer.

Roche further said that considering the trending binge drinking among the baby boomers, formal policies related to drug and alcohol absenteeism and proper training and education for the staff is required in the country.

Contact the writer at, or let us know what you think below.

Join the Discussion