HealthStats NSW
HealthStats NSW
HealthStats NSW
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Alcohol drinking in adults

Aboriginal, 2018
43.5Aboriginal, 2017
41.3Aboriginal, 2016
44.1Aboriginal, 2015
40.1Aboriginal, 2014
45.5Aboriginal, 2013
35.5Aboriginal, 2012
34.4Aboriginal, 2011
31.7Aboriginal, 2010
35.3Aboriginal, 2009
42.1Aboriginal, 2008
56.8Aboriginal, 2007
50.2Aboriginal, 2006
51.4Aboriginal, 2005
45.3Aboriginal, 2004
46Aboriginal, 2003
50Aboriginal, 2002
40.3Non-Aboriginal, 2018
31.2Non-Aboriginal, 2017
30.7Non-Aboriginal, 2016
29.5Non-Aboriginal, 2015
25.5Non-Aboriginal, 2014
26.9Non-Aboriginal, 2013
26.4Non-Aboriginal, 2012
27.5Non-Aboriginal, 2011
29.5Non-Aboriginal, 2010
29.7Non-Aboriginal, 2009
30.9Non-Aboriginal, 2008
31.5Non-Aboriginal, 2007
30.9Non-Aboriginal, 2006
31Non-Aboriginal, 2005
31.2Non-Aboriginal, 2004
33Non-Aboriginal, 2003
33.4Non-Aboriginal, 2002
32.4Total, 2018
31.5Total, 2017
31.1Total, 2016
29.8Total, 2015
25.9Total, 2014
27.4Total, 2013
26.6Total, 2012
27.6Total, 2011
29.6Total, 2010
29.8Total, 2009
31.1Total, 2008
32.1Total, 2007
31.3Total, 2006
31.4Total, 2005
31.4Total, 2004
33.3Total, 2003
33.7Total, 2002
  • + Source

    NSW Population Health Survey (SAPHaRI). Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health.

  • + Notes

    To assist monitoring long-term risk of harm, as defined by Guideline 1 of the 2009 National Health And Medical Research Council Guidelines, this indicator provides information on the proportion of adults who consume more than 2 standard drinks on a day when they consume alcohol (see Methods tab for further information).

    The indicator shows self-reported data collected through Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). Estimates were weighted to adjust for differences in the probability of selection among respondents and were benchmarked to the estimated residential population using the latest available Australian Bureau of Statistics mid-year population estimates. Adults are defined as persons aged 16 years and over in the NSW Population Health Survey.

    In order to address diminishing coverage of the population by landline telephone numbers (<85% since 2010), a mobile phone number sampling frame was introduced into the 2012 survey.

    The inclusion of mobile phone numbers substantially increased the Aboriginal sample and this change in design means that from 2012 NSWPHS estimates reflect both changes that have occurred in the population over time and changes due to the improved design of the survey. 

    LL/UL 95%CI = lower and upper limits of the 95% confidence interval for the point estimate.

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    • Key points: Alcohol

      Latest available information

      Latest available data for adults in NSW

      The 2019 NSW Adult Population Health Survey (self-reported using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing or CATI) estimated that:

      • 32.8% of adults (41.2% of men and 22.8% of women) consumed more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks on a day when they consumed alcohol.

      • 48.7% of Aboriginal adults consumed more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks on a day when they consumed alcohol

      • 26.7% of adults (34.7% of men and 19.1% of women) consumed more than 4 drinks on a single occasion in the previous four weeks. 

      Latest available data for secondary school students in NSW

      • 13.7% of students aged 12-17 years (15.1% of boys and 12.3% of girls) consumed alcohol in the last 7 days as estimated from the 2017 NSW School Students Health Behaviours Survey (self-completed questionnaire).

      Overall trends in NSW

      Self-reported data on consuming more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks on a day have been collected for adults in NSW since 1997 through the NSW Population Health Survey, and since 1985 through the National Drug Strategy Household Survey. Data from an interviewer-administered questionnaire has been collected in the ABS National Health Survey (2017-18).

      Self-reported data on alcohol drinking in the past 7 days have been collected for students in NSW since 1987 through the NSW School Students Health Behaviours Survey.

      Prevalence estimates, although differing slightly between surveys because of different sampling frames, participation rates and modes of collection (telephone versus self-completed questionnaires versus face-to-face personal interview versus drop-and-collect) have remained constant over time for adults and fallen in school students.

      Alcohol problems in emergency departments

      In 2018-19 in NSW:

      • There were around 15,800 unplanned presentations to 84 NSW public hospital emergency departments for alcohol. 

      • The rate of ED presentations among persons aged 18-24 years (402.5 per 100,000 population) was around 1.6 times that of persons aged 15 years and over (254.5 per 100,000 population).

      • The rate of ED presentations among males aged over 15 years was around 1.8 times that of females aged over 15 years, however similar between males and females aged 15-17 years (326.9 and 321.5 per 100,000 respectively).

      • There were 10,129 presentations for alcohol-related problems among all males aged over 15 years and 1,532 in males aged 18-24 years (15% of total for males) compared with 5,673 for all females aged over 15 years and 1,423 for females aged 18-24 years (25% of total for females).

      Data are from 84 NSW public hospital emergency departments (EDs) that have reported continuously since 2009-10 and have collected reasonably complete diagnosis information since 2009-10. These EDs accounted for around 87% of all emergency department activity in NSW in 2018-19, consequently the presentations reported here are under-estimates of the actual NSW presentations. The under-estimation differs by geographical area, which precludes analysis by Local Health District, Primary Health Network, Local Government Area and remoteness from service centres. Data refer to all presentations to the included EDs regardless of patients' district or state of residence. 

      Hospitalisations attributable to alcohol

      A total of 45,005 hospitalisations were attributed to alcohol in NSW in 2018-19, which was approximately 1.5% of all hospitalisations.

      The rate of hospitalisations attributable to alcohol has been relatively stable in all persons in recent years. There is a consistent pattern over time of increasing rates with increasing rurality and geographic remoteness.  There is also a consistent pattern of higher rates in higher socioeconomic areas compared with more disadvantaged areas. The rate in the Aboriginal population was 1.8 times higher than the rate in the non-Aboriginal population in 2018-19.

      There was considerable variation in the rate of hospitalisations attributable to alcohol between Local Government Areas (LGAs), with 21 LGAs having a rate significantly higher than the state average and 38 significantly lower than the state average (at the 1% level of significance) in the period 2015/16-2016/17.

      Deaths attributable to alcohol

      A total of 1,929 deaths were attributed to alcohol in NSW in 2018, which was approximately 3.6% of all deaths in 2018.

      The death rate attributable to alcohol has shown a slight decrease in recent years. The rates in males and females were 26.6 and 13.2 deaths per 100,000 population respectively in 2018.


      Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey report. Available at:

      Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18. Available at:

      ·         In 2017, 26% of adults (35% of men and 17% of women) consumed more than 4 drinks on a single occasion in the previous four weeks, increasing their immediate risk of harm, as estimated from the 2017 NSW Adult Population Health Survey.

    • Introduction: Alcohol

      Alcohol and health implications

      Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the main preventable public health problems in Australia, with alcohol being second only to tobacco as a preventable cause of drug-related death and hospitalisation. 

      Long-term adverse effects of high consumption of alcohol on health include contribution to cardiovascular disease, some cancers, nutrition-related conditions, risks to unborn babies, cirrhosis of the liver, mental health conditions, tolerance and dependence, long term cognitive impairment, and self-harm.

      The guidelines to reduce the health risks from drinking alcohol, published by the National Health and Medical Research Council in 2009, state that the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury is reduced by drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day when drinking alcohol. These guidelines also state that drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the immediate risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion. In HealthStats NSW, the measure of lifetime risk of harm is defined as more than 2 standard drinks on a day when usually drinking, and is referred to as "long-term risk of harm" from alcohol consumption. As this definition is based on usual alcohol consumption, therefore representing an overall pattern of drinking, it reflects alcohol use related to health risk over the long-term.    

      Harm from alcohol-related accident or injury is experienced disproportionately by younger people; over half of all serious alcohol-related road injuries occur among 15–24-year-olds. However, harm from alcohol-related disease is more marked among older people.

      Useful websites:

      National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Canberra: NHMRC, 2009. Available at:

      NSW Ministry of Health. Reducing alcohol-related harm snapshot

      Australian Bureau of Statistics at

      Australian Institute of Health and Welfare at

      healthdirect at

    • Interventions: Alcohol

      Information on the programs available for the prevention and management of alcohol-related harm can be found in the Reducing alcohol-related harm snapshot and the Ministry of Health website.

    • For more information: Alcohol

      Useful websites include:

      NSW Health: Alcohol and other drugs website at

      Your Room website at

      Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service at  

      Australian Bureau of Statistics at

      Australian Institute of Health and Welfare at

      healthdirect at

Last Updated At: Wednesday, 27 May 2020