This report is based on the three most recent National Drug Strategy Household Surveys; namely 2001, 2004 and 2007. Using these surveys, the report looks at the trends in alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm, alcohol beverage of choice, and under-age drinking. Using the 2007 data, the paper identifies factors that are associated with short-term risky or high-risk drinking behaviour. The major findings are summarised here.

Alcohol consumption

  • The trends in recent alcohol consumption have remained fairly similar over the years: around 83% of all Australians aged 14 years or over were recent alcohol drinkers.
  • Proportionately more drinkers were found among the employed, people from socioeconomically advantaged areas, and people from Remote and Very remote areas.

Youth alcohol consumption (aged 14–17 years)

  • Alcohol consumption by young people has slightly declined from 66% in 2001 to 62% in 2007.
  • More than seven in ten young people sourced their alcohol from friends or parents, and nine in ten young drinkers report that it is very easy or fairly easy to obtain alcohol.

Type of alcohol consumed

  • The most preferred alcoholic beverage among male drinkers was regular-strength beer, and among females it was bottled wine.
  • In 2007, on a typical day, Australians aged 14 years or over consumed 28 million standard drinks. The two beverages consumed most in terms of standard drinks were bottled wine (29%) and regular-strength beer (28%).

Determinants of short-term risky alcohol consumption

  • Using a statistical technique that takes many factors into account simultaneously, an increased propensity for risky or high-risk drinking in the short term was seen to be associated with youthfulness, smoking daily, and having most friends that also drink.
  • Again accounting for other factors, a reduced propensity for risky or high-risk drinking in the short term was associated with being male, speaking a language other than English at home, and higher education.
  • Employment status and family type had no statistically significant effect on the propensity for risky or high-risk drinking.