Social and economic costs of alcohol in the NT

The costs of alcohol to the Australian community from alcohol misuse are substantial, nowhere more so than in the Northern Territory, where per capital alcohol sales are well above the Australian average.


Researchers at SACES in collaboration with the Menzies School of Health Research recently completed a study into the social and economic costs of alcohol in the NT, updating work last done in 2009.

We estimate that the total social cost of alcohol in 2015/16 was $1,386.8 million, with tangible costs of $701.3 million, and intangible costs of $685.5 million (excluding the lost quality of life due to addiction amongst dependent drinkers and the family members of dependent drinkers – the magnitudes of which are less certain but likely to be very substantial).

At an individual level the estimated total social cost of alcohol in 2015/16 was $3,832.19 in tangible costs per adult resident of the Northern Territory, with intangible costs imposing a further cost of $3,745.75 per adult. This equates to a total estimated impact of $7,577.94 per adult (excluding the costs of alcohol dependence to the dependent drinker and their family).

The main drivers of the costs of alcohol misuse are:

  • Total tangible healthcare costs of $100.2 million;
  • Total tangible road crash costs of $57.6 million (excluding mortality, hospital separations and intangible costs);
  • Total quantifiable costs of crime of $272.6 million;
  • Total child protection costs of $170.9 million; and
  • Intangible costs of premature death of $652.5 million.

These costs arise from substantial tangible impacts of alcohol in the Northern Territory, including:

  • An estimated 141.9 net premature deaths caused by alcohol.
  • 47 per cent of violent crime in the Northern Territory (and 39 per cent of non-violent crime) was attributable to alcohol misuse.
  • Alcohol is estimated to be responsible for between 4.5 per cent and 11 per cent of cases of child abuse and neglect in the Northern Territory, creating costs of $8 million to $20 million in increased child protection spending by the NT Government, and imposing lifetime costs of $62 million to $384 million on the victims of child abuse and neglect.
  • Almost fifty per cent of road crash deaths, and twenty per cent of serious injury crashes were attributable to alcohol.
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