A Griffith University report into the societal cost of alcohol misuse has ranked among the 10 most read research publications in Australia this year.

Research database Australian Policy Online announced the results yesterday (December 18), based on the number of page visits during 2013.

Professor Paul Mazerolle (Pro Vice Chancellor Arts Education and Law), Dr Matthew Manning (School of Criminology and Criminal Justice) and Professor Christine Smith (Griffith Business School) conducted the study, which was published by the Australian Institute of Criminology.

After acknowledging well-documented problems associated with alcohol misuse, the authors provided updated evidence on the costs to the criminal justice system and the health system, as well as those from alcohol-related road accidents and lost productivity in the workplace.

In New South Wales alone, when social impact including lost productivity at work and in the home was considered, the report calculated the total societal cost at $3.87 billion a year, or $1565 from each household.

Based on 2010 data supplied by various agencies, the researchers found that on a national scale the direct societal costs of alcohol ($14.352 billion) more than doubled revenue generated via Commonwealth taxation on alcohol ($7.075 billion).

Furthermore, this estimate did not include indirect costs such as pain and suffering, which the researchers said could conceivably more than double the amount again.

Rather than relying on charitable organisations (Salvation Army, Mission Australia, Lifeline) to deal with a significant proportion of the effects of alcohol misuse, the report proposed that a reasonable proportion of government revenue generated from alcohol taxation be directed to diversion and prevention strategies.

“Such strategies might be implemented in partnership with the abovementioned organisations or with similar community groups in order to enhance their cost-effectiveness and uptake.

“Alternatively, such strategies might be implemented within existing public health agencies following a significant diversion to them of additional budget and resources from this alcohol-related tax revenue.”

Australian Policy Online said popular research topics during 2013 included asylum seekers, disability, social media, disadvantage, mental health and public services.

It said five of the top 10 research reports were published by government bodies, with the rest coming from NGOs, think-tanks and academic outlets.