Page last updated:July 10, 2013
Fewer drinking; young drinking more responsibly in New Zealand
A Ministry of Health survey in New Zealand, undertaken in 2011/12 indicates that fewer people are drinking and younger people are drinking more responsibly. 80% of the population reported consuming alcohol, down from 84% in the 2006/07 survey. All age groups reported falls in the numbers drinking in the past year, but it was particularly notable in under-age drinkers from 15 to 17 years old.

Of those drinking, one in five reported a hazardous drinking pattern, which is defined as a pattern that carries a risk of physical or mental harm, or having harmful social effects to the drinker or others.  Hazardous drinking rates for males have fallen from 30% to 26%, but were virtually unchanged for women at 13%, compared to 12% in 2006/07. Rates of hazardous drinking among people aged 18–24 years dropped to 38%, from 49% in the previous survey.

The report also found that Maori have similar rates of past-year drinking as the total population, but have higher rates of hazardous drinking. Rates of hazardous drinking among Maori adults have decreased since 2006/07, (from 33% in 2006/07 to 29% in 2011/12).

While Pacific adults are less likely to drink alcohol, those who do are more likely to have hazardous drinking patterns (35%) than adults overall (19%).

People living in more deprived areas are less likely to have consumed alcohol in the past 12 months, but are more likely to have hazardous drinking patterns (18%), than people living in less deprived areas (11%). 

The report concludes that there is much unrealised potential for achieving public health and safety benefits from effective alcohol policies. Moving forward, provincial authorities, in collaboration with public health and safety stake-holders, are urged to strengthen their policies as highlighted in this report. In order to reduce alcohol-related harm in New Zealand, there must be concerted action on more than one dimension, with an emphasis on both population-level policies and interventions which target high-risk drinkers.

www.health.govt.nz/publication/hazardous-drinking-2011-12-findings-new-zealand-health-survey

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