Releasing the data from its 10-year ‘Trends in alcohol availability, use and treatment’ report this month (October 2016), the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found that an increase in cost, as well as a decrease in club trading hours, has led to a decrease in alcohol consumption across the board for all Australians.

Comparing alcohol consumption in 2008-09, where the report outlined that the average Australian would consume 10.8 litres of pure alcohol annually, with 2013-14, the AIHW recognised a significant decrease with an average pure alcohol consumption of 9.7 litres annually.

Of particular note, around 75 per cent of teenagers abstained from alcohol in 2013, up from 64 per cent in 2010, however, the report also outlined that despite the overall decrease in alcohol consumption, young adults, aged 18-24 years of age are continuing to drink at risky levels.

The report author, Mr Mark Petricivec rom the Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs Unit of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, identified that the research conducted during report development, identified that the different strategies employed by the Australian Government, and supporting bodies to reduce alcohol consumption and the negative consequences of drinking alcohol have been effective, with restrictions on economic availability (such as increased taxes and minimum pricing) and physical availability (such as restricting the days and hours of sale) recognised as major factors in the decreased alcohol consumption.

Overall, the number of Australians abstaining from drinking alcohol has increased from 17 per cent in 2004 to 22 per cent in 2013, while the data also recognised that Australians likely to identify themselves as having a drinking problem were more likely to seek help – an increase of 20 per cent representing 30 patients per 10,000 individuals in 2013-14, compared to 2008-09.

Overall the report suggested a positive trend for Australia, with alcohol consumption decreasing, however, young adults (aged 18-24) are the exception to the rule, with almost half (47 per cent), of all young adults (aged 18-24) admitted to drinking at risky levels on multiple occasions.

Speaking to Nine News about the outcomes demonstrated by the report, AIHW spokesman Tim Beard said that he hopes to see the positive trend in reducing overall alcohol consumption levels in Australia continue, while also expressing concern for young Australians.

“The results suggest strategies such as increasing the price of alcohol and restricting trading hours have had a positive outcome in reducing overall consumption levels,” said Mr Beard.

“While there are positive drinking patterns emerging overall, patterns of risky drinking and alcohol dependence continue to be significant issues in Australia, especially among young people.”

If you or someone you know needs support and treatment to reduce your alcohol intake, you should contact:

  • Your doctor
  • Your local community health centre
  • An alcohol or other drug helpline in your state/territory