A recent report has shone a light on the serious nature of overindulgence in Aussie drinking culture by revealing that just 5% of Australians drink just over a third of all alcohol sold.
The research, published today by Latrobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, also found that Australia’s heaviest category of drinkers, the top 5%, consume almost eight drinks a day each.
It’s troubling news that Luke Hutchins, of the Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education, who commissioned the study, said should prompt controls on alcohol consumption and advertising for at-risk drinkers.
“Alcohol has devastating impacts on families and communities across the country, contributing to a range of short-term and long-term harms including increased anxiety, injury, chronic diseases such as cancer, and family violence,” Hutchins said.
He also argues that alcohol companies are aware of this issue and are exploiting people by profiting off of those who drink at unsafe levels.
“These profits come at the expense of the health and wellbeing of families and communities across Australia,” he said.
“It has never been easier for alcohol companies to target people who drink heavily and who might be experiencing alcohol dependence. By design, alcohol companies are using digital marketing to easily identify, and target people based on purchasing history to push their products around the clock.
Using data from the latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey, the team found that the heaviest drinking 10% of the population account for over half (54.1%) of all alcohol sold in Australia. The top 20% account for three-quarters of all alcohol consumed.
People most likely to drink heavily are those between the ages of 40 and 59 and are more likely to be men living in rural locations.
Cask wine and regular strength beer are the most popular choices while these people are often drinking in several locations throughout the day, not just at home.
Lead author of the study Megan Cook said that their analysis aligns with international research that a small proportion of people typically account for a large amount of total alcohol sold – making alcohol companies dependent on them for profit.
“This level of drinking is nearly double the national guideline of drinking no more than four drinks per day to reduce risk of injury and disease,” she said.
It’s hardly surprising that Australia has a problem with alcohol, as, last year, international data found that we were the drunkest nation on the planet during the pandemic.
If you’re concerned about your own drinking or someone close to you, you can find information on getting help at the Turning Point website or call the National Alcohol and Other Drugs Hotline for free, 24/7 on 1800 250 015.