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 |
24 Aug 2022
16 Jul 2020
People with mental health conditions are more likely to use tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs
The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke has declined significantly
There is a strong link between problematic alcohol or other drug use and experiences of homelessness
Australians are increasingly supportive of cannabis use and most support pill-testing.
Between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of ex-drinkers rose from 7.6% to 8.9%.
In 2019, 11.0% of Australians smoked tobacco daily, down from 12.2% in 2016 and 24% in 1991.
More reports and statistics on alcohol can be found under Alcohol & other drug treatment services, Illicit use of drugs and Smoking.
We'd love to know any feedback that you have about the AIHW website, its contents or reports.
The browser you are using to browse this website is outdated and some features may not display properly or be accessible to you. Please use a more recent browser for the best user experience.