Alcohol Use Statistics

Alcohol consumption patterns in Australia in 2019

  • About 3 out 4 (76.6%) of Australians aged 14 or older reported they had consumed alcohol in the past year and 5.4% drank on a daily basis; the proportion of people consuming alcohol daily has continue to decline since 2001 (8.5%) [1]
  • Almost 1 in 6 (16.8%) people aged 14 or older consumed more than 2 standard drinks per day on average, exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines – this was a small decline from 17.2% in 2016 [1]
  • Just over 1 in 7  (15.1%) had 11+ drinks on a single drinking occasion in the past 12 months – about 1 in 15 (6.5%) had done so at  least monthly [1]
  • Adults aged 18–24 were more likely to drink at harmful levels (11+ drinks) on a single occasion than the rest of the adult population (30.5% yearly, 14.6% monthly) [1]

Changes in alcohol consumption in Australia

  • The proportion of people giving up alcohol (ex-drinkers) increased between 2016 and 2019, from 7.6% to 8.9%.[1]
  • Younger people are delaying drinking – the average age of 14–24 year olds trying alcohol for the first time has been increasing since 2001—from 14.7 years (2001) to 16.2 years  (2019). [1]
  • The proportion of people drinking at risky levels on a single occasion (25%) and exceeding lifetime risk guidelines (16.8%) has remained stable since 2016. [1]
  • The proportion of adults aged 18 and over who consumed more than 11 standard drinks on a single occasion at least once a month declined from 7.4% in 2016 to 6.7% in 2019. [1]
  • About 1 in 2 recent drinkers took action to reduce their alcohol intake in 2019 – concern for their health was the main reason for doing this. [1]
  • Since 2007, the proportion of women consuming alcohol during pregnancy has declined and the proportion abstaining has risen. Between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of pregnant women abstaining from alcohol slightly increased from 56% to 65% but this rise was not statistically significant. [1]

Alcohol-related harms

  • About 1 in 5 people reported being  victims of alcohol-related incidents (from verbal abuse, physical abuse or being ‘put in fear’) in the previous 12 months—20.5% among females and 22.3% among males. [1]
  • In 2015, 4.5% of the total burden of disease in Australia was attributable to alcohol use. Alcohol use disorders were the second leading cause of total burden for males aged 15-24 and the third leading cause for males aged 25-44, in Australia. [2]
  • Alcohol use contributed to 22% of the burden due to road traffic injuries, 28% of the burden due to chronic liver disease and 14% of the burden due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries in 2011. [3]

 

Daily alcohol status, people aged 14 years and older, by state/territory and Australia, 2001 to 2019 (%) [4]

 

State/Territory 2001 2004 2007 2010 2013 2016 2019
NSW 9.2 9.1 8.4 7.5 6.7 6.4 5.7
VIC 7.5 8.2 7.4 6.7 5.7 5 4.3
QLD 8.5 9.9 8.5 8.5 7.6 6.5 6.5
WA 8.8 10.3 10 7.7 7.1 6.5 5
SA 8.3 9.2 8 6.1 6.6 6 5.8
TAS 7 6.4 7 6.5 6 5.7 5.1
ACT 9.7 9.2 6.8 5.5 6.7 3.7 4.4
NT 9 9.8 10.9 7.5 9.3 7.5 8.2
Australia 8.5 9.1 8.3 7.4 6.7 6 5.4

Lifetime alcohol risk status, people aged 14 and over, ACT and Australia, 2019 (%) [5]

ACT Australia
Males Females Persons Males Females Persons
Abstainers/ex-drinkers 18.7 21.1 19.9 21.5 25.8 23.8
Lifetime risk: Low risk 61.7 69.9 66 54.1 64.8 59.5
Lifetime risk: Risky 19.7 9 14.1 24.4 9.4 16.8

Victims of alcohol-related incidents in the previous 12 months in Australia, people aged 14 years and older, 2016 and 2019 (%) [6]

Incident 2016 2019 2016 2019 2016 2019
Male Female Persons
Any incident 22.6 22.3 21.5 20.5 22.1 21.4
Verbal abuse 20.2 19.6 17.2 15.9 18.7 17.7
Put in fear 6.8 5.6 5 4 5.9 4.8
Physical abuse 9.3 10.1 13.5 13.3 11.4 11.8

Harmful alcohol use:

A pattern of use that is causing damage to health, which may be physical (eg. liver cirrhosis, cancer) or mental (eg. depressive episodes related to heavy alcohol intake) and typically occurs over the medium to long term. Harmful use commonly, but not in all cases, has negative social consequences. Put simply, harmful use means the drinker is already experiencing harm.

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Cat. no. PHE 270. Canberra: AIHW. doi:10.25816/e42p-a447

[2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015. Cat. no. BOD 22. Canberra: AIHW. doi:10.25816/5ebca2a4fa7dc.

[3] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia. Cat. no. PHE 221. Canberra: AIHW. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol/alcohol-tobacco-other-drugs-australia

[4] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Cat. no. PHE 270. Canberra: AIHW. Table S.14. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/illicit-use-of-drugs/national-drug-strategy-household-survey-2019/data#page1

[5] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Cat. no. PHE 270. Canberra: AIHW. Table S.15. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/illicit-use-of-drugs/national-drug-strategy-household-survey-2019/data#page1

[6] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Cat. no. PHE 270. Canberra: AIHW. Table 3.46. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/illicit-use-of-drugs/national-drug-strategy-household-survey-2019/data#page1