Australia: Older People Consume More Alcohol Than Younger
In Australia, older people between 50 to 64 years of age consume more alcohol than younger people between the ages of 18 to 24 years.
The ABC’s Australia Talks National Survey showed:
- Only 3% of the younger generation consume more than 10 units of alcohol a week, compared with a quarter of all 50- to 64-year-olds.
- Only 1% of 18- to 24-year-olds said they use alcohol daily, compared with 12% of the older generation.
- 10% of people exceed the alcohol use guidelines (14 units per week).
- 13% of the 50- to 60-year-olds had over 15 units of alcohol per week
The Australia Talks findings are in line with analysis of five sets of data from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey from 2001 to 2013. It showed:
- Per capita alcohol consumption in Australia fell by 10.5% from 2007, with two-thirds of the decline coming from people under the age of 30 consuming less alcohol;
- 60- to 69-year-olds increased their alcohol consumption by 6%.
Alcohol consumption patterns and age
One reason for youth to be consuming less alcohol is affordability. Young people are saving money for investing in other things such as travel or cars, while the older generation is inclined to spend more on alcohol.
While there is a popular belief that young people are replacing alcohol with illicit drugs, Sarah Callinan, senior research fellow at the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, debunks this myth.
Young people do use more illicit drugs than older people, but that has been consistently true over time,” said Dr. Callinan as per ABC News.
This current generation of young people are less likely to use or consume illicit drugs than the generation before them.”
Melinda Lucas, an Alcohol and Drug Foundation spokesperson believes there is still more work to do to prevent and reduce alcohol harm because while consumption has been on a downward trend harm has been growing.
There is another misconception that heavy alcohol use takes place out of home and in bars, but this is also untrue.
- 63% of all alcohol consumption in Australia happens in the home.
- Particularly for older people, more than 70% of their alcohol consumption happens in their own home.
Both patterns, consuming more alcohol in the long run and consuming a lot of alcohol at once are bad for health. While there is no safe limit for alcohol consumption, Australian guidelines state no more that 14 units of alcohol should be consumed by adults within a week. The guidelines aim to decrease the harm that alcohol causes, but the only way to be completely free from risk is to abstain from alcohol.
Michael Thorn, chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) said there needs to be prevention messages focused on older people.
Australia needs a public awareness campaign [for older generations] that tells the truth about long-term risks of alcohol consumption and it needs it now,” said Mr. Thorn as per ABC News.
We need messages that cut through and a simple message that says alcohol causes cancer is what would do the trick.”