The consumption of alcohol is widespread within Australia and entwined with many social and cultural activities. However, harmful levels of consumption are a major health issue, associated with increased risk of chronic disease, injury and premature death.
The harmful use of alcohol has both short-term and long-term health effects. Short-term effects are mainly related to potential injury suffered by the drinker and/or others who may be affected by the drinker’s behaviour. Over the longer term, harmful drinking may result in alcohol dependence and other chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, types of dementia, mental health problems and various cancers. Excessive drinking can impair judgement and coordination, and contributes to crime, violence, anti-social behaviours and accidents. Alcohol use during pregnancy is associated with severe adverse perinatal outcomes, such as foetal alcohol syndrome and alcohol-related birth defects and developmental disorders.
Australian governments have had strategies to minimise alcohol-related harm in place for a number of decades. These include:
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) provides guidelines about alcohol use to help Australians make an informed choice about reducing their health risks from alcohol. The most recent version of the guidelines, Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol, was released in 2020.
Web report |
14 Dec 2022
16 Jul 2020
Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable health burden in Australia
Over the past 50 years, levels of apparent consumption of different alcoholic beverages changed substantially
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in Australia
In 2019, 11.0% of Australians smoked tobacco daily, down from 12.2% in 2016 and 24% in 1991.
Between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of people who had ever used e-cigarettes rose from 8.8% to 11.3%.
Between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of ex-drinkers rose from 7.6% to 8.9%.
More reports and statistics on alcohol can be found under Alcohol & other drug treatment services, Illicit use of drugs and Smoking.
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