West Australians might be drinking less alcohol and smoking less cannabis but they are still having more than the national average, a new report warns.
The Drug and Alcohol Office's annual report shows that though there has been a significant drop in daily drinking between 2007 and 2010 - down from 9.8 per cent to 7.5 per cent - more West Australians are drinking alcohol at risky levels compared with national figures.
The 2010 National Drug Strategy household survey shows 43.4 per cent of West Australians aged 14 years and over drink weekly, compared with 39.5 per cent nationally.
Almost a quarter of people were drinking at levels that could cause harm in the long term.
"In WA, there has been a notable increase in the level of community concern around alcohol-related harm, particularly alcohol-fuelled violence," the report said.
"Alcohol is the most commonly-used drug in WA, causing significant costs and harms and alcohol-related problems are estimated to cost $4 billion a year."
The report also raised concerns about levels of drinking in regional areas, where the increasing demand for prevention and treatment services significantly exceeded capacity.
This was worrying because people in remote areas were more likely to need hospital treatment for alcohol-related problems than those in major cities.
"The mining and resources boom has also impacted on communities, including alcohol and drug-related problems," the agency said.
"Problems do not only impact on the workforce, especially those who fly in and fly out of regional areas, but also affects nearby communities and can cause problems for the workers' families."
The report said the rate of illicit drug use had dropped from 25.4 per cent in 1998 to 18.6 per cent in 2010.
Although cannabis use had fallen, 13.4 per cent of West Australians reported being users, compared with 10.3 per cent of people nationally.
The use of drugs such as methamphetamine, ecstasy and heroin was stable or declining, but an emerging issue was the wider use of synthetic substances and the misuse of prescription drugs.Did you know? The average West Australian drinks 11 litres of alcohol in a year.
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