A Whangarei GP says she sees at least one person a day who has a quite a significant issue with alcohol.
Dr Glenys Currie from Raumanga Medical Centre said alcohol harm is extensive in Whangarei.
"It's really common that people don't know what's healthy," Dr Currie said.
"I think Northland and Whangarei have some of the biggest alcohol problems in New Zealand."
That was because there was often a correlation between alcohol harm and deprivation, she said.
A lot of people were surprised when she told them what the recommended drinking guidelines were, Dr Currie said. For women it was two standard drinks a day and for men it was three.
Some of the issues she saw were directly related to alcohol like injuries, domestic violence, unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
Other issues were not directly related but often caused or exacerbated by alcohol including cancer, diabetes and mental illness.
Issues with alcohol were often difficult for people to talk about, Dr Currie said.
"It can completely take over people's lives to the point that they aren't able to carry out normal responsibilities."
As a result, Dr Currie often sawchildren who did not get the appropriate food or medical care because their parents were reliant on alcohol.
"If we want change then we actually need to do something about it," she said.
Dr Currie supported the stance of Northland medical officer of health Clair Mills who said supermarkets should not be able to sell alcohol before 9am.
"Most of the people who want alcohol at 8am in the morning are, in my experience, alcoholics," she said.
"By restricting that access to alcohol it doesn't really affect people that are drinking alcohol in moderation."
Like when the new give way laws came into effect, people will change if they are given warning in advance, Dr Currie said.
-This story is part of a series running while bylaws around alcohol in Whangarei are up for debate.
Public submissions are open for the Whangarei District Council draft local alcohol policy until July 10.