17th May 2019, Volume 132 Number 1495

Jennifer Lai, Paul Hanton, Angela Jury, Charito Tuason

In New Zealand, one in five adults have potentially hazardous drinking patterns.1 The Health Promotion Agency recommends no more than 15 standard drinks per week among men, and 10 for…

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Using established research methods, it has been possible to analyse data collected from people accessing services at the start and end of treatment for their alcohol-related issues. This analysis has shown that reducing alcohol days of use has a positive impact on lifestyle and wellbeing. The sector often discusses reducing harm, this paper shows increased benefits, a paradigm shift in thinking from reduction of a negative to increased positive.



The study examined the impact of alcohol use on lifestyle and wellbeing among adults accessing New Zealand community alcohol and other drug (AOD) services, and practice implications.


Routinely collected Alcohol and Drug Outcome Measure (ADOM) data for individuals at both treatment start and treatment end was analysed. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses examined the independent impact of changes in days of alcohol use on weekly lifestyle and wellbeing issues. Analyses controlled for sociodemographic variables and other substances used.


In total, 598 people reported alcohol as their main substance of concern. The largest improvements in lifestyle and wellbeing were observed for mental health, social relationships and physical health. Change in days of alcohol use significantly contributed to the prediction of change in lifestyle and wellbeing issues experienced (model R2=20%, adjusted R2=19%, p<.001). Results were similar for amount and total volume.


Reduced alcohol use positively impacts on people’s lifestyle and wellbeing. Findings have implications for increasing awareness of the benefits for people’s lives, even small reductions in alcohol use. The need to strengthen routine ADOM collection in AOD services is highlighted, as well as the availability of vocational rehabilitation to support people’s wellbeing.

Author Information

Jennifer Lai, Research Assistant, Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui, Auckland; 
Paul Hanton, Clinical Project Lead, Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui, Hamilton; 
Angela Jury, Principal Advisor Research, Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui, Auckland; 
Charito Tuason, Data Analyst, Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui, Auckland.


The authors would like to acknowledge Professor David Fergusson’s input in the initial stages of this project, and Dr Mark Smith for his early contributions. Thanks also to Sandra Baxendine for the extraction of PRIMHD data, and Will Ward and Ashley Koning for their review of the draft manuscript.


Paul Hanton, Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui, PO Box 307, Waikato Mail Center, Hamilton 3240.

Correspondence Email


Competing Interests



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