Two-thirds of Australians think the country has an excessive drinking problem

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE)’s 2019 Annual Alcohol Poll has found an increase in binge-drinking among Australians.

FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn said the nationally representative online survey confirmed “Australia has a problem with alcohol”.

Key findings

The latest poll of more than 1800 people is now in its 10th year. The 2019 survey found:

  • Only 31 per cent (%) of people could correctly identify the number of standard drinks a person could consume to minimise long-term harm
  • 51% of drinkers consume one to two standard drinks on a ‘typical occasion’
  • 16% of drinkers consume six or more standard drinks on a ‘typical occasion’
  • 12% of drinkers consume 15 or more standard drinks in a ‘typical week’
  • 62% of drinkers consume four or fewer standard drinks in a ‘typical week’
  • 79% of Australians who consumed six to 10 standard drinks on a ‘typical occasion’, consider themselves responsible drinkers
  • 64% of Australians drink to get drunk at least twice a week
  • 82% of adults consume alcohol, with men more likely to drink than women.

Alcohol consumption in Australia

According to Mr Thorn, despite alcohol consumption rates remaining relatively stable, incidences of alcohol-related harm had increased.

“It’s not clear why this is. One explanation is that among people who drink, some drink very heavily…which explains why ambulance call outs, for instance, might continue to go up,” he said.

In Australia, nearly 6,000 lives are lost each year as a result of alcohol, while more than 144,000 people are hospitalised.

Despite two-thirds of those who responded to FARE’s survey reporting they’re “comfortable” with their alcohol consumption, Mr Thorn said the “level of ignorance about health risks” is concerning.

“One in 22 Australians die from alcohol-related causes, yet the community remains in the dark about the range of life-threatening disease that alcohol causes,” he said.

“Alcohol has a very significant impact on this country, and we need dramatic changes to reduce the magnitude of that harm.”