Alcohol and Your Long-Term Health

Alcohol consumption can have long-term impacts on an individual’s health. 

Nearly 1 in 18 ACT residents drink every day, and nearly 1 in 5 drink at levels that place them at risk of alcohol-related harm and ill-health in their lifetime. [1]

Alcohol-related disease and ill-health is often associated with what is commonly referred to as ‘heavy drinking’, but anyone that regularly drinks more than 2 standard drinks on any day is at higher risk of longer term health conditions.

Regular drinking can cause long term damage to the body. People can report some of the harms that happens as a result of one-off drinking occasions (road crashes, pedestrian injury, assaults, burns, poisonings, falls, drownings, and workplace injuries). However, there’s also a lot of harm and ill-health caused by our normal day-to-day drinking over time.

There are a significant number of alcohol-related diseases and health problems caused by alcohol consumption in Australia, including:

  • Cancer (bowel, breast, throat, mouth, liver)
  • Liver disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Dependence
  • Mental health problems

During 2010, in the ACT there were a total of 2,273 alcohol attributable hospitalisations and 73 deaths representing 2.5% and 4.3% of all hospitalisation and deaths respectively. [2]

The World Health Organisation and other key groups now recommend that people should not commence or maintain drinking to achieve health benefits and that there is no merit in promoting alcohol consumption as a preventative strategy for cardiovascular disease.

The National Heart Foundation (Australia) has also formed the position that alcohol consumption not be promoted for the prevention or treatment of heart disease.

To remain at low risk of alcohol-related diseases and health problems, health experts recommend having no more than two standard drinks on any day.


In this section:

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2011). National Drug Strategy Household Survey report 2010. Drug statistics series no. 25.Cat. no. PHE 145. Canberra: AIHW.

[2] Gao, C., Ogeil, R.P. & Lloyd, B. (2014). Alcohol’s burden of disease in Australia. Canberra: FARE and VicHealth in collaboration with Turning Point.