Page last updated: August 17, 2017

Australian National Drug Strategy Household Survey

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published its triennial report on beverage alcohol consumption and drug use. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) collects information on alcohol and tobacco consumption, and illicit drug use among the general population in Australia. It also surveys people’s attitudes and perceptions relating to tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. Survey findings relate mainly to people aged 14 years or older. The 2016 NDSHS shows that younger people (aged under 30) were smoking less, drinking less and using fewer illicit drugs in 2016 than in 2001. Australians are drinking more responsibly and more moderately than ever with the vast majority drinking within the recommended Government guidelines.

• 82% of 12-17 year olds are abstaining from drinking – a significant increase from 56% in 2007; and the average age at which underage people have their first alcoholic drink has increased to 16.1 years compared to 15.0 years in 2007. Fewer young adults aged 18-24 are exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines (down from 31% in 2010 to 18.5% in 2016). Young adults are also significantly reducing episodes of risky drinking - a lower proportion of 18–24 year olds consumed 5 or more standard drinks on a monthly basis (reduced from 47% in 2013 to 42% in 2016). The proportion of 12- to 24-year-olds engaging in extreme drinking at least once a month also declined during this period.

• Compared to 2013, fewer people in Australia drank alcohol in quantities that exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines in 2016 (17.1%, down from 18.2% in 2013). However, the number exceeding the single occasion risk guideline did not change. • More people in their 50s were consuming 11 or more standard drinks in one drinking occasion in 2016 than in 2013. 50- to 59-year-old women were the group with the highest rate of lifetime risky drinking in 2016, whereas 18- to 24-year-old women held this position in 2007.

• Men were still approximately twice as likely as women to consume more than two drinks daily.

• Fewer people reported being a victim of an alcohol-related incident; the proportion declined from 26% in 2013 to 22% in 2016.

DrinkWise CEO John Scott commented that these ongoing positive trends validate much of the positive work undertaken over the past 11 years with DrinkWise’s generational approach to creating a safer and healthier drinking culture evident in the results: “DrinkWise has been at the forefront of providing parents with information and tips to assist them through our parents’ campaigns since 2007. The effect of our award winning Kids Absorb Your Drinking and Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix campaigns are certainly at play in the dramatic decrease in underage drinking rates.” ”The launch of our ongoing How to Drink Properly campaign in 2014 to substantially change single occasion risking drinking (5+ standard drinks in a session) among 18-24 year olds is taking effect. This result validates that talking to young adults in a meaningful way and at the right time can have significant influence in changing a binge culture.” ndshs-2016/alcohol/
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