Alcohol abuse costs NSW $3 billion a year

ALCOHOL abuse is costing NSW more than $3 billion a year, the state's audit office has revealed.

While NSW Police figures released this week showed assaults at pubs and clubs had decreased in the past five years, research sponsored by the Audit Office of NSW found alcohol-related hospitalisations were clogging up emergency departments more than ever.

The cost to the NSW Government alone was estimated to be more than $1 billion, or $416 per household.

Additional social costs took the figure to $3.87 billion - $1565 per household.

The troubling results prompted Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat to call for a state-wide reporting system that revealed the true cost of alcohol to the community.

"The NSW Government should estimate the cost of alcohol abuse every three years and publicly report the cost so the government and the public know whether the problem is getting better or worse," Mr Achterstraat said

"The community also has a right to know this information so it can inform public debate on alcohol abuse and the best ways to combat it."

In the past 12 months the O'Farrell government has imposed strict alcohol abuse conditions in problem areas like Kings Cross.

Mr Achterstraat recommended restrictions could be extended to include an "abuser pays" model, where offenders were fined for taking valuable resources away from police stations and hospitals.

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