At a glance
- In 2022, 1.5 million (36.4%) adults exceeded the risky drinking guideline—950,000 were male and 500,000 were female.
- The prevalence of risky drinking among males was double that of females (48.9% compared to 24.5%).
- In 2017, 175,000 (52.0%) secondary school students (age 12 to 17 years) consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months and 109,000 (32.2%) consumed alcohol in the previous four weeks.
- The prevalence of risky drinking in the Queensland adult population decreased 5.3% from 2012 to 2022.
Alcohol is widely used in Australian society and many people drink at levels that pose little risk to health. However, drinking above recommended guidelines has many acute social and health impacts, affecting individuals, families and communities. Consuming alcohol at high levels substantially increases the risk of injury, road traffic accidents and potentially self-harm. Longer term health impacts include a variety of conditions, such as cancer, liver disease, heart disease, and alcohol use disorders.1
Alcohol can negatively impact health, and increase healthcare costs and productivity losses:
- In 2018 risky alcohol consumption accounted for 4.5% of the total burden of disease (DALY).2
- The estimated healthcare costs attributable to alcohol ranged from $1.9 billion to $2.6 billion per year (in 2016–17 dollars) and estimates of the corresponding annual costs from productivity loss attributable to alcohol range from $1.1 billion to $6.8 billion.3
New Australian alcohol guidelines were released in 2020 following a comprehensive review. The review updated evidence of the harmful effects of alcohol and reported that lower alcohol consumption levels were required to lower the risks of alcohol consumption.
For adults, current guidelines recommend no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than four on any one day. Drinking alcohol above this level increases the risk of alcohol-related disease or injury.1
In 2022, more than one-third (36.4%) of adult Queenslanders consumed alcohol at levels that were risky to their health.
Adults consuming alcohol at risky levels were more likely to be:
- living in a more remote area of Queensland.
Figure 1: Adult alcohol consumption by selected characteristics, 2022
Children and young people
In 2017, just over half (52.0%) of Queensland high school students had consumed any alcohol in the past 12 months and about a third (32.3%) had consumed any alcohol in the past four weeks.
The prevalence of consuming alcohol in the past 12 months increased with age for youth:
- 12 to 13 years—29.6%
- 14 to 15 years—54.6%
- 16 to 17 years—77.9% (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Alcohol consumption of Queensland school students in the past year, 2017
|Demographic subgroup||Consumed alcohol in the past year (%)||Did not consume alcohol in the past year (%)|
|Children 12-17 years||52.0||48.0|
|Males 12-17 years||53.5||46.5|
|Females 12-17 years||50.3||49.7|
|Children 12-13 years||29.6||70.4|
|Children 14-15 years||54.6||45.4|
|Children 16-17 years||77.9||22.1|
The prevalence of risky drinking decreased 5.3% from 2012 to 2022 and declines varied by age group (Figure 3).
There was a 7% decrease in the prevalence of Australian high school students who had consumed alcohol in the previous month between 2011 and 2017. Decreases were evident across sex and age.4
Figure 3: Trends in adult alcohol consumption in Queensland
In 2017–18 risky alcohol consumption among Queensland adults did not differ from national prevalence based on the 2009 NHMRC guideline (Queensland: 17.4% compared to Australia: 16.1%). Queensland ranked 3rd among the Australian states and territories.5
Data and statistics
Visit the National Health and Medical Research Council for the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol including the evidence-base used to develop these guidelines.
Summary results from the Queensland preventive health survey (QPHS) for Hospital and Health Services and other regions can be found within this report and more detailed and historical results can be accessed at Preventive health surveys.
Strategies and information
For strategies to reduce harmful drinking see
- The Department of Health and Aged Care National Alcohol Strategy 2019–2028 and National Drug Strategy
- Queensland Government Achieving balance: The Queensland Alcohol and Other Drugs Plan 2022-2027.
Section technical notes
Where presented, ratios were calculated using higher precision estimates than in text. Ratios calculated using estimates in text may differ.
Data for this section were sourced from:
- the Queensland preventive health survey (QPHS) (See Preventive health surveys for further information)
- the Australian Secondary School Alcohol and Drugs Survey (ASSAD) (See Australian secondary school students alcohol and drug survey for further information)
- the Productivity Commission’s annual Report on Government Services* (See Report on Government Services for further information).
At the time of publication, national comparisons more recent than 2017–18 were not available due to a COVID-related delay in the conduct of the ABS’s National Health Survey and the manner by which the data was collected. Further details can be found at National Health Survey: First Results methodology.
The 2020 alcohol consumption guidelines are based on a standard drink defined as containing 10g of alcohol. Average consumption of more than ten standard drinks per week (lifetime risky drinking) or more than four standard drinks on any one day (single occasion risky drinking) is considered to increase the risks of harm from alcohol.
The 2020 guidelines were released in December 2020 and superseded the 2009 guidelines. The changes to the guidelines have been summarised in the factsheet found at Preventive health reports.
- National Health and Medical Research Council. 2020. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: National Health and Medical Research Council.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2021. Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2018. Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 23. Cat. no. BOD 29. Canberra: AIHW. doi: 10.25816/5PS1-J259.
- Crosland P., Ananthapavan J., Davison J., Lambert M. & Carter R. 2019. The economic cost of preventable disease in Australia: a systematic review of estimates and methods. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 43(5): 484–495. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12925.
- Guerin N. & White V. 2018. ASSAD 2017 Statistics & Trends: Australian Secondary Students’ Use of Tobacco, Alcohol, over-the-Counter Drugs, and Illicit Substances. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria.
- Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision. 2023. Report on Government Services 2023. Accessed: 14 February 2023.