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Alcohol Use Statistics

Alcohol Trends in Western Australia 

Alcohol is consumed on average by every four in five (82%) Western Australian adult and this has remained relatively constant over the past 10 years.1

While there were some improvements reported in 2016 in relation to the proportion of Western Australian’s exceeding the National Health and Medical Research Councils (NHMRC) drinking guidelines compared to previous years, Western Australian’s drink more alcohol in comparison to the national average. 2

In 2016:

  • Nearly every one in five (18.4%) Western Australians (14 years and older) reported drinking at levels (more than two standard drinks on any day) that increase their risk of alcohol-related harm over their lifetime. This is higher in comparison to the national average (17.1%). 3
  • Nearly every two in five (37.3%) Western Australians (14 years and older) reported drinking at levels (more than four standard drinks) that increase their risk of harm on a single drinking occasion. This is consistent to the national average (37.3%). 4

Proportion of Western Australian’s (14 years and older) who drink at-risk of harm over the lifetime and on a single occasion in 2010, 2013 and 2016.

In 2019, every two in five (44%) Western Australian reported drinking with the intent to get drunk. 5

Young adults (20-29 years) are most likely to drink at risky levels

In Western Australia, those within the 20-29 year age group are most likely to drink at-risk of single occasion harm at least monthly (42.5%). This is followed by those in the 30-39 (35.8%) and 40-49 (29.2%) year old age groups. 6

Males are more likely than females to drink at risky levels

Males are more likely to report regularly drinking at-risk of single occasion harm (at least weekly (18.1%) or at least monthly (17.6)) compared to females (8.9% and 9.4% respectively).7

Most parents are choosing not to provide alcohol to their child

In 2018, two out of three Western Australian parents (72%) reported never having provided their child with alcohol. This has increased from 56% in 2012. 8

This is consistent with the majority of parents who are of the view it is inappropriate to provide alcohol to their own child who is under 18 (75%), or someone else’s child (95%). 9

Australian school students alcohol and drug survey

The below information is based on the results of the 2017 Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) Survey. 3

Youth drinking lowest in the decades

Students were asked if they had consumed alcohol and how recent their use was. Rates of alcohol use by students has declined over the past three decades. The proportion of students drinking has significantly declined - in the past year (79.8% to 41.0%), in the past month (50.0% to 23.3%) and in the past week (33.5% to 14.5%). 

In the same time period, the proportion of students reporting they have never drunk alcohol has more than tripled, increasing from 8.8% in 1984 to 38.3% in 2017. 

How are the data collected

Every three years, school students in Western Australia are surveyed to find out about their drug use in the Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug Survey.

They are asked about alcohol, tobacco, other illicit and licit drug use, how much they use, how they use and their attitudes to alcohol and other drug use.

This survey has been collected since 1984, with additional drug related questions added since 1996.

The most recent survey included 3,361 young people aged from 12 to 17 years from 46 randomly selected government, Catholic and independent schools across the State.

This graph below shows the prevalence and recency of alcohol use for students aged 12-17 years, 1984 to 2017. 

 

Alcohol use in 2017 is generally higher for males and older students

The proportion of  students reporting they have never drunk alcohol in 2017 is 38.3%. As Figure 2 shows, the proportion of students who report never drinking steadily decreases with increasing age. For example, 62.2% of 12 year old students reported never consuming alcohol in contrast to 13.5% of 17 year old students. 

For all male students (aged 12 to 17 years), an estimated 39.2% have never consumed alcohol. Of those who reported ever drinking alcohol, 39.1% reported drinking in the past year, 20.5% in the past month and 13.3% in the past week. 

For all female students, an estimated 37.3% have never consumed alcohol. Of those who reported ever drinking alcohol, 43.0% reported drinking in the past year, 26.2% in the past month and 15.8% in the past week. 

Of those students who drank in the past week, boys drank more standard drinks on average than girls (18.7 drinks compared to 9.4 drinks). 

Risky drinking guidelines 

According to the 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council alcohol consumption guidelines not drinking alcohol is the safest option for children and young people under 18 years of age. This is particularly so for those under 15 years of age.

For adults, drinking at risk of single occasion harm (e.g. injury) is defined as having more than four standard drinks on any one day.

Defining risky drinking for students 

Single occasion is the most common type of risky drinking for young people, as most students do not drink regularly. Only those who had used alcohol in the last week were asked about quantity consumed. Therefore, risky drinking for other recency periods such as past month or year cannot be calculated. Note, single occasion risk in the following analysis is defined using adult guidelines, though not drinking is the safest option for young people.

Risky drinking in 2017 

Of those students who drank in the past week (14.5%), approximately three in ten (29.2%) drank at risk of single occasion harm (see Figure 3). For boys who drank in the past week (13.2%) three in ten (30.0%) drank at a risky level. Girls were similar - of those who drank in the past week (15.8%) approximately three in ten (28.4%) drank at risky levels.

The two graphs below show the prevalence of single occasion risky drinking and mean drinks over the past week for those who drank at single occasion risk by gender, 12 to 17 years, 2017. 

Little change in risky drinking over past two decades

As the graph above shows, there has been an increase in the proportion of students drinking at risky levels for single occasion harm from 1984 (16.1%) up to (29.2%) in 2017. 

However, the proportion of students drinking at risky levels for single occasion harm in 2017 remains substantially lower than that reported in 2011 (36.2%). 

The graph below shows the trends in single occasion risky drinking for students who drank in the past week by gender, 12 to 17 years,1984 to 2017. 

Spirits and premixed spirits are preferred

Students who drank in the past week were asked what drink they usually have (but could select more than one). This figure shows the top five responses based on 12 to 17 year old preferences. Most students drank premixed spirits (39.1%), ordinary beer (35.8%) and spirits (33.9%). Low alcohol beer (19.7%) and alcoholic cider (18.8%) were also common responses.

This graph below shows the top five usual alcoholic drinks for students who drank in the past week, 12 to 17 years, 2017.

 

Friends over 18 years and parents are the most common sources of alcohol

Students who drank in the past week were asked the source of their last alcoholic drink (but could select more than one). Figure 6 shows the top five responses based on 12 to 17 year old students. An estimated one third of students sourced alcohol from a friend aged 18 years or over (33.6%) and nearly one quarter from parents (22.7%).

This graph below shows the top five sources of last alcoholic drink for students who drank in the past week, 12 to 17 years, 2017.

 

 
References

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education. (2019). Annual alcohol poll 2019: attitudes and behaviours. Canberra: FARE. Retrieved from: http://fare.org.au/wp-content/uploads/FARE-Annual-Alcohol-Poll-2019-FINAL.pdf

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2017) .National Drug Strategy Household Survey, accessed 2 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/15db8c15-7062-4cde-bfa4-3c2079f30af3/21028a.pdf.aspx?inline=true

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2017). National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016: detailed findings. AIHW: Canberra.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2017). National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016: detailed findings. AIHW: Canberra.

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education. (2019). Annual alcohol poll 2019: attitudes and behaviours. Canberra: FARE. Retrieved from: http://fare.org.au/wp-content/uploads/FARE-Annual-Alcohol-Poll-2019-FINAL.pdf

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2017). National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016: detailed findings. AIHW: Canberra.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2017). National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016: detailed findings. AIHW: Canberra.

Kantar Public. (2018). Alcohol Attitudes 2018: Parents and Young People. Data Dictionary. Unpublished.

Kantar Public. (2018). Alcohol Attitudes 2018: Parents and Young People. Data Dictionary. Unpublished.

 

Page last updated: 31 October 2019 

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