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Alcohol 'Facts & Statistics'

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The information included below has been obtained from such sources as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS); the National Drug Strategy/Household Survey; World Health Organisation (WHO); and can be considered accurate in its statistical data & findings. One must also bear in mind that for many of those who consume alcohol, there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to suggest the 'down-playing' of quantities imbibed. Many treatment centres and clinicians in the field of 'Drug & Alcohol' use & abuse are only too aware of this in their assessment & treatment of the individuals concerned.

Despite the possibility of even greater consumption, use & abuse, the statistics and facts listed below are, by themselves, 'frightening & disturbing'.


Facts & Statistics



·    “Alcohol, though widely used & enjoyed in Australian society, is a depressant drug. In low quantities it causes people to become less inhibited, in higher doses it can cause unconsciousness and even death. It is thought that low to moderate consumption may offer some protective health effects. However, high alcohol consumption increases the risk of heart, stroke & vascular diseases, liver cirrhosis and some cancers. It also contributes to disability and death through accidents, violence, suicide and homicide.” (WHO 2004) 


·    Australia ranks 14th in ‘Total Alcohol Consumption’ (per capita) – ahead of such countries as United States, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, Canada & Greece. 


·    It ranks 8th in ‘Beer Consumption’, 14th for ‘Spirit Consumption’ & 8th for ‘Wine Consumption’. 


·    62% of adults reported drinking in the week before the NHS survey with one in eight (8) drinking at a ‘risky/high’ level. This represents 13% of all adults or some 2 million people. 


·    Drinking at or above ‘risky/high’ risk levels in the short term (on any single occasion) is sometimes referred to as ‘Binge Drinking’. It can lead to an increased incidence of assaults, falls, other accidents (including motor vehicle accidents) and violence. 


·    Binge Drinking for people 18 years & over (reported over the previous 12 months) and on at least one (1) occasion applied to 48% of males & 30% of females. For those 14 years & over, 40% of males & 31% of females consumed alcohol at ‘risky/high’ levels in the short term. 


·    Of those who drank at ‘risky/high’ risk levels, more people reported high/very high psychological distress compared with those who drank at ‘low risk’ levels. The most affected were in the age group 18 – 24 years; women more so than men. 


·   Alcohol is the 2nd largest cause of drug-related deaths and hospitalizations in Australia (after tobacco) (AIHW, 2005a) 


·    Alcohol is the main cause of deaths on Australian roads. 


·    It has been estimated that 31,132 Australians died from alcohol-caused disease & injury between 1992 and 2001; of these 75% were males. From 1993-94 to 2000-01, there were over ½ million hospitalizations due to ‘risky’ and ‘high risk’ drinking in Australia (Chikritzhs et al. 2003). 


·    At the community level, the estimated economic cost of alcohol misuse to the Australian community in 1998 – 99 totalled $7.6 Billion, and this estimate includes associated factors such as crime and violence, treatment costs, loss of productivity and premature death (Collins & Lapsley, 2002). 


·    According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 140 million people throughout the world suffer from alcohol related disorders. 



Alcohol Statistics


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Michael J. Salamon, Ph.D., FICPP
Senior Psychologist/Director
ADC Psychological Services, PLLC
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