Alcohol Consumption in Australia

Alcohol is the most widely used drug in Australia. It is a major cause of preventable injury, accidents, disease and death. Harms from alcohol not only impact the individual, but families, friends, and the wider community.

  • Around 77% of adults drink alcohol.
  • 23% do not drink alcohol.
  • In 2019, the proportion of ex‑drinkers increased significantly from 7.6% in 2016 to 8.9% in 2019 (AIHW 2020, Table 3.1)
  • The proportion of the population aged 14 and over who consumed alcohol daily declined significantly between 2016 (6.0%) and 2019 (5.4%) (AIHW 2020, Table 3.1).
  • 1 in 3 adults (33%) who drink alcohol drink at levels that exceed the Australian Alcohol Guidelines and put them at risk of alcohol-related disease or injury. 

Young People
  • More young people in WA are choosing not to drink alcohol. Over the last 20 years, alcohol use among young people aged 12 to 17 years old has significantly decreased (from 74% in 1999 to 41% in 2017).  
  • While fewer young people are drinking, of those who reported drinking in the last week, 1 in 3 drank at levels considered high-risk for adults.

Some harms are very visible, others are hidden (or take time to become visible). 

  • 42 people died on WA roads in 2020 where the driver was suspected to be under the influence of alcohol, or the primary cause of the crash included alcohol.
  • WA has one of the highest rates of emergency department presentations due to alcohol in the country, with 1 in 5 emergency department presentations on Saturday nights being due to alcohol.
  • More than 1 person dies each week by suicide related to alcohol in WA. In 2019, an estimated 58 people died by suicide related to alcohol.
  • 21% of drownings in Western Australia occur due to alcohol.

Hidden harms include the contribution to family violence, cancer and chronic disease, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and impacts on mental health.  

  • 360 West Australians die from diseases caused by alcohol each year. 
  • 180 family violence assaults are related to alcohol use each week in WA. 
  • Alcohol will contribute to an estimated 249,700 cases of cancer over the lifetime of Australians who were adults in 2016.

Responsible Alcohol Consumption

To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any day.

By following this advice, there is a less than 1 in 100 chance of dying from an alcohol-related condition across your lifetime.

The less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol.

Alcohol is directly linked to over 40 medical conditions, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems, and mental health conditions.

Alcohol Think Again

Alcohol and the Clubhouse

RugbyWA is dedicated to driving a fiercely inclusive community, with rugby as a game for all.   

With changes made to the way we view alcohol and its place within club culture, together we can create a positively connected community, which respects all lifestyles and creates a thriving, supportive environment for all. 

With the guidance of the GoodSports program, rugby union clubs throughout Western Australia have successfully implemented policies and initiatives which prioritise health and wellbeing, emphasise the importance of youth engagement within the club, and encourage inclusive environments for all.  

Clubs throughout Western Australia have implemented initiatives to foster the best possible environment and relationship with alcohol. To learn about the work of some of these clubs, visit the link below.

Alcohol Laws & Licensing
Drinking and Driving

It is against the law to drive with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.05% or above for full license holders.

For anyone on a learner’s permit or P plates, the legal limit is 0.00% (zero) BAC.

If you choose to drink alcohol, your blood alcohol level should remain below 0.05 if you:

  • Drink no more than two standard drinks in the first hour and one per hour thereafter (for men of average size), or
  • Drink no more than one standard drink per hour (for women of average size)

This information from WA Police is a guide only. You can still be above 0.05 BAC even if you follow this information. Keep in mind, alcoholic drinks served in pubs, bars and restaurants are often served in larger glasses and contain more than one standard drink.

Licensed Venues
  • It is against the law to sell alcohol anywhere without a license to do so. This includes at a shop, venue, function or party. 
  • All licensed venues have specific trading hours they can sell and serve alcohol. It is a requirement that all bar staff, managers and licensees be formally trained in Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA). 
  • It is against the law to sell or supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 18. People under 18 years old can only enter or remain at licensed venues in specific circumstances depending on the license type (e.g. when accompanied by a parent or guardian).

Tips to Reduce Drinking
  • Count your drinks
  • Have alcohol-free days each week
  • Swap to low or no alcohol alternatives
  • Avoid using alcohol to deal with stress, anxiety or poor sleep
  • If you're thinking, "Do I really need this?"; chances are, you don't!
  • Pause between drinks
  • Change your routine
  • Know your standard drinks
  • Keep less alcohol at home
Tips for Talking to Teens

It’s never too early (or too late) to start talking with your child about alcohol and why it’s important they avoid drinking while they are young. You can support your child by setting clear expectations and being prepared for conversations.

Alcohol and Young People

Health experts recommend that children and people under 18 should not drink alcohol to reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health.

Alcohol and Pregnancy

There’s no safe level of alcohol use at any stage in pregnancy. The Australian Alcohol Guidelines recommend that women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol.

Tips To Reduce Your Drinking

This brochure provides helpful tips to reduce your consumption of alcohol.

Alcohol and Your Health

Alcohol has the potential to have both short-term and long-term impacts on people's health. This brochure provides a guide to how alcohol can influence your health, and provides tips to reduce your risk of harm.

ATA Resources and Tools

For posters, toolkits and other resources, visit Alcohol Think Again's resources page to access helpful tools to utilise at your club.


For more information, click the banner above to visit the Alcohol Think Again website.