The medical community has important roles in reducing harm from alcohol and other drugs
A contemporary vision of how to prevent harmful alcohol and drug use is emerging, at a time when a new approach is vitally needed. In 1998 (the most recent year for which mortality data on all recreational substances are available), substance use killed some 23 000 Australians.1 Licit drug use accounted for 96% of these deaths, with tobacco the leading cause. In the same year, drug use cost the Australian community $34.7 billion, representing almost 2% of GDP for alcohol, 1.71% for tobacco and 1.76% for illicit drugs.2 Rates of tobacco and alcohol use have increased over the past decade among adolescents and young adults.
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