How much alcohol is consumed outside of the lifetime risk guidelines in Australia?

Introduction and Aims: This study aims to estimate the prevalence of long term risky drinking within the Australian population and the proportion of standard drinks that are consumed outside of the long term risk (LTR) guidelines of two Australian Standard Drinks (ASD) per day.

Design and Methods: Recruited by phone, 2020 Australian adults with an oversampling of risky drinkers were asked detailed questions about how much alcohol they consumed at a range of locations in 2013. Descriptive statistical analyses of data weighted to be representative of the Australian adult population were undertaken, with a focus on the ASD consumed above the LTR guidelines.

Results: Although 28% of respondents drink at levels above the LTR drinking guidelines, 56% of all ASD consumed are above the two per day recommended to reduce LTR. Three quarters of cask wine and liqueurs were consumed outside of the LTR guidelines, as were 58% of all ASD consumed in the home, similar to the proportion of ASD consumed above the guidelines in pubs (55%).

Discussion and Conclusions: While the minority of Australians drink to LTR levels, the majority of alcohol is consumed by long-term risky drinkers. More research and policy focus on the patterns of alcohol consumption that lead to long term risk, particularly outside of licensed premises, is required.