Alcohol consumption

Harmful levels of alcohol consumption are a major health issue and are associated with increased risk of chronic health conditions, injury and premature death.

Based on self-reported data, 1 in 7 (14%) people aged 15 and over with disability consume, on average, more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol per day, increasing their lifetime risk of harm from alcohol consumption (Figure 1). This compares with 1 in 6 (16%) people aged 15 and over without disability.

Around 1 in 3 (31%) people aged 15 and over with disability consumed more than 4 standard drinks of alcohol on a single occasion in the past year, increasing their risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion (Figure 2). This compares with nearly 1 in 2 (44%) people aged 15 and over without disability.

People aged 15 and over with severe or profound disability are less likely to drink at risky levels than those with other disability:

  • 8% consumed more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol per day on average, compared with 16% (Figure 1)
  • 19% consumed more than 4 standard drinks of alcohol on a single occasion, compared with 34% (Figure 2).

Males aged 15 and over with disability are far more likely than their female counterparts to drink at risky levels:

  • 23% consumed more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol per day on average, compared with 7% (Figure 1)
  • 43% consumed more than 4 standard drinks of alcohol on a single occasion, compared with 21% (Figure 2).

As this is consistent with patterns for the overall population, this likely reflects sex rather than disability status.

For lifetime alcohol risk, there is little difference between younger (aged 15–64) and older (aged 65 and over) people with disability (15% compared with 14%). But younger people with disability are far more likely than older people with disability to drink at risky levels on a single occasion (40% compared with 16%) (figures 1 and 2). As this is consistent with patterns for the overall population, this likely reflects age rather than disability status.

References

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2019. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. Findings based on AIHW analysis of the main unit record file (MURF).