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Australia's changing relationship with alcohol

AlcoholResearch at La Trobe University has revealed that 30% of Australians recently reduced the quantity of their alcohol consumption and a further 29% reduced the frequency of their drinking, while 6% kicked the habit for good.

Published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, the study found young adults aged between 24 and 29 were generational leaders in reducing alcohol intake, citing lifestyle reasons such as work, education and family as their main influencers for change.

According to a La Trobe University release, reported in Science Daily, researchers analysed 12 years of data from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which included almost 120,000 participants. The data was collected in four stages, looking at the drinking habits of Australians in the previous 12 months.

Lead researcher Dr Amy Pennay, from La Trobe's Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, said the findings confirm that the cultural status of alcohol in Australia is shifting.

"The research shows all age groups and sexes in Australia are reducing or quitting drinking, even older, more established drinkers," Dr Pennay said.

"Most surprisingly, we found that intoxication is not as acceptable as it once was, with more than a third of 14 to 30-year-olds who had quit drinking doing so because they dislike the impact alcohol has on their social experiences.

"They believe in moderation, they are concerned about violence and they want to avoid drunkenness or genuinely dislike how getting drunk makes them feel."

While health concerns related to alcohol consumption remained the greatest concern for Australians overall, Dr Pennay said the findings connected to socialising could influence future public health efforts.

"For example, health-related messages appear particularly salient for older populations, while a focus on the pleasures of moderation, avoiding violence and ways to enjoy leisure time without intoxication seem to resonate more with younger groups," Dr Pennay said.

"More and more Australians are choosing to have a healthy relationship with alcohol.

"It is important now, more than ever, that we use this research to maintain and sustain this movement."

Additional statistics

  • Overall, rates of quitting drinking increased steadily between 2001 and 2013 from 4.3% to 6%, and rates of reducing either the quantity or frequency of drinking also increased from around 24% to 30% in both over the same time
  • Almost one in two drinkers (43.4%) reported using at least one method to reduce their drinking in 2013
  • 14 to 17-year-olds were the group most likely to have recently quit drinking (13%)
  • 24 to 29-year-olds were the group most likely to have recently reduced drinking (49%)
  • Males (45%) were more likely than females (41%) to recently reduce drinking, while females (8%) were more likely than males (4%) to recently quit drinking
  • People over 30-years were more likely to report health reasons for reducing drinking, while people under 30 years were more likely to report lifestyle, social or lack of enjoyment in drinking
  • Females were more likely to reduce drinking for health reasons, while males were more likely to quit drinking for the same reason


Patterns in Reduction or Cessation of Drinking in Australia (2001–2013) and Motivation for Change

Alcohol and Alcoholism, Oxford University Press


This paper examines: (a) change over time (2001–2013) in recently reducing or ceasing drinking in the Australian population and (b) the reasons given for reducing or ceasing drinking in the most recent survey (2013); stratified by sex and age group.

Short summary

Rates of reducing and ceasing drinking increased between 2001 and 2013 in Australia. Young people were more likely to modify drinking due to lifestyle and enjoyment reasons; older groups were more likely to report health reasons. These trends contribute to the broader context of declining alcohol consumption in Australia.


Data are from five waves of the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (N = 119,397). Logistic regression models with interaction terms were used to identify a shift in sex or age over time in predicting reduction or cessation of drinking and to predict motivations for reducing or ceasing drinking by sex and age.


Reports of recently reducing the quantity or frequency of drinking increased from 2001 to 2007 and remained stable between 2007 and 2013. There was a steady increase in the number of Australians reporting recently ceasing drinking from 2001 to 2013, with a significant effect for age (younger groups more likely than older groups to cease drinking in the past two waves). Reasons for reducing or ceasing drinking varied by age, with older people more likely to report health reasons and younger people more likely to report lifestyle reasons or enjoyment.


Increases over time in reports of reduction or cessation of drinking due to health, lifestyle, social and enjoyment reasons suggest that the social position of alcohol in Australia may be shifting, particularly among young people.


Amy Pennay, Sarah Callinan, Michael Livingston, Daniel I Lubman, John Holmes ,Sarah MacLean, Rachel Herring andPaul Dietze.

[link url=""]Australia's changing relationship with alcohol[/link]

[link url=""]Patterns in Reduction or Cessation of Drinking in Australia (2001–2013) and Motivation for Change[/link]





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