Australia’s alcohol consumption is at a 50-year low


Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have found the average alcohol consumption rate in Australia is the lowest it has been since the 60’s.

Here is why.

The findings

The average rate of alcohol consumption was determined by the amount of pure alcohol consumed by Australians (aged 15 and over) over one year.

The results found that in 2016-17, Australia consumed 196 million litres of alcohol, that’s an average of 9.4 litres per adult. To put this into perspective, a ‘standard drink’ contains 12.5mL of pure alcohol.

The statistics were then broken up into beer, wine, spirits, cider and pre-mixed drinks.

For an average adult, 9.4 litres of alcohol across the groups equates to:

  • 224 stubbies of beer
  • 38 bottles of wine
  • 4 bottles of spirits
  • 17 bottles of cider
  • 33 cans of pre-mixed drinks.

How have the figures lowered?

According to the ABS Director of Health Statistics Louise Gates, a fall in beer consumption may be the reason behind the low figures we’re seeing.

“Over three-quarters of alcohol consumed was from either beer (39 per cent) or wine (38 per cent),” Ms Gates said.

“And while alcohol consumed from wine has declined recently, the drop-in beer consumption has been the main driver for falling alcohol consumption, with an average decline of 2.4 per cent per year over the last 10 years.”

Dr Paul Grinzi, who has a special interest in addiction medicine, also believes cost consideration and increasing awareness of alcohol-related harm are contributing factors to lower consumption levels among younger people.

“We’ve seen it with tobacco; taxation and cost is certainly a driver of behaviour, so I think that’s not surprising,” Dr Grinzi said.

“There’s also a higher awareness of the ubiquitous nature of alcohol-related harms in our society, on a social and psychological level and also the physical harms … especially through social media, which I think is more penetrating these days, in terms of the younger market.”

Although it’s nice to hear the average rate of alcohol consumption is lowering across Australia, rates of illicit drug use appear to be increasing.

“Certainly, in the younger population, we’re seeing a lot more [illicit]drug use, so probably less of the heroin, cocaine stuff, and more of the stimulants and so-called party drugs,” Dr Grinzi said.

The experts at House Call Doctor advise to act responsibly by drinking in moderation and not to drive while under the influence.


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