• Print this page

Drug & Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is the most widely used psychoactive, or mood-changing, recreational drug in Australia. People drink to relax, celebrate and have fun. Alcohol is part of most social occasions.

In 1998, Australia was ranked 19th in the world in terms of per capita consumption of pure alcohol at 7.6 litres per person (per annum). That same year, the consumption of alcohol was a contributing factor in the deaths of 3271 Australians aged 0–64.

In 1999, Australia was ranked 21st in the world in terms of per capita consumption of pure alcohol, at 7.5 litres of pure alcohol per person.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2001 National Drug Strategy Household Survey:

  • It was estimated that almost 13 million Australians aged 14 years and

    Alcohol abuse

    over had consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months. 
  • Most drinkers (39.5 per cent) consumed alcohol on a weekly basis. 
  • Almost 10% of Australians aged 14 and over consumed alcohol on a daily basis. 
  • Almost 10% of Australians aged 14 and over have never consumed a full glass of alcohol. 
  • Males (46 per cent) were more likely than females (33 per cent) to drink weekly. 
  • Nearly one in three teenagers were weekly drinkers, and almost half consumed alcohol less than weekly. Fewer than one in 100 teenagers consumed alcohol daily.
  • Male teenagers (31 per cent) were more likely than female teenagers (25 per cent) to be regular (weekly) drinkers; however, there were more female teenagers (0.5 per cent) than male teenagers (0.3 per cent) who consumed alcohol on a daily basis. 
  • The average initiation age for drinking alcohol was 17.1 years

Alcohol and Other Drugs

  • Combining alcohol with any other drug (including over-the-counter or prescribed medications) can be unpleasant and dangerous. The effects of one drug may be greatly increased by the other. 
  • Consuming alcohol with other depressant drugs such as sleeping pills can be fatal, as this can cause the central nervous system to switch off brain and heart activity.
  • Seek medical advice about the effects of combining alcohol with prescribed and over-the-counter medications.

The Effects of Alcohol

  • Some people have sex when they have been drinking and regret it when they sober up. People who have been drinking are more likely to have unsafe sex that can result in pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Excessive alcohol use may contribute to many personal and social problems:
  • Family problems
  • Financial problems
  • Legal problems
  • Drink-driving may lead to fines, loss of license and even imprisonment. 
  • Excessive alcohol consumption can cause illness, resulting in absenteeism, poor work performance and accidents at work. 
  • The risk of road, boating and work-related accidents is increased. 
  • Alcohol can affect the condition of skin and hair, and the high calorie content of alcoholic drinks can lead to weight gain.

Source: The Australian Drug Foundation