Australian youth aged 12-17 years in the general population

What proportion of Australians aged 12-17 years drink alcohol?

Most Australians aged 12-17 years (71%) do not drink alcohol.  Of those who drank alcohol in the past 12 months, 15% drank yearly, 10% drank monthly, and 3% drank weekly. 

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

The proportion of school students who have consumed alcohol differs from the proportion of young people in the general population who have consumed alcohol (see FAQ What proportion of Australian school students aged 12-17 years drink alcohol?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents data on any alcohol use (even one drink), and the weekly/monthly/yearly categories are not mutually exclusive. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents data on usual drinking frequency during the past 12 months, and the categories are mutually exclusive.

In addition, the proportion of school students who have ‘never consumed’ alcohol differs from the proportion of ‘abstainers’ among young people in the general population. In the school students’ survey (ASSAD), those who have never consumed alcohol are determined by the question: “Have you ever had even a part of an alcoholic drink (including a few sips)?”.  By contrast, in the general population survey (NDSHS), abstainers are determined by the questions: “Have you ever tried alcohol?”, “Have you ever had a full serve of alcohol?” and “Have you had an alcohol drink of any kind in the last 12 months?”.

Are male or female Australians aged 12-17 years more likely to drink alcohol?

Australian females aged 12-17 years are slightly more likely than males to abstain from alcohol or to drink on a yearly basis. Males aged 12-17 years are slightly more likely than females to drink on a monthly basis. 

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: The proportion of school students who have consumed alcohol differs from the proportion of young people in the general population who have consumed alcohol (see FAQ Are male or female Australian school students aged 12-17 years more likely to drink alcohol?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents data on any alcohol use (even one drink), and the weekly/monthly/yearly categories are not mutually exclusive. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents data on usual drinking frequency during the past 12 months, and the categories are mutually exclusive.

In addition, the proportion of school students who have ‘never consumed’ alcohol differs from the proportion of ‘abstainers’ among young people in the general population. In the school students’ survey (ASSAD), those who have never consumed alcohol are determined by the question: “Have you ever had even a part of an alcoholic drink (including a few sips)?”.  By contrast, in the general population survey (NDSHS), abstainers are determined by the questions: “Have you ever tried alcohol?”, “Have you ever had a full serve of alcohol?” and “Have you had an alcohol drink of any kind in the last 12 months?”.

Are younger or older Australians aged 12-17 years more likely to drink alcohol?

Among Australians aged 12-17 years, older youth are more likely to drink weekly, monthly and yearly than younger youth, and are less likely to abstain from alcohol. 

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

The proportion of school students who have consumed alcohol differs from the proportion of young people in the general population who have consumed alcohol (see FAQ Are younger or older Australian school students aged 12-17 years more likely to drink alcohol?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents data on any alcohol use (even one drink), and the weekly/monthly/yearly categories are not mutually exclusive. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents data on usual drinking frequency during the past 12 months, and the categories are mutually exclusive.

In addition, the proportion of school students who have ‘never consumed’ alcohol differs from the proportion of ‘abstainers’ among young people in the general population. In the school students’ survey (ASSAD), those who have never consumed alcohol are determined by the question: “Have you ever had even a part of an alcoholic drink (including a few sips)?”.  By contrast, in the general population survey (NDSHS), abstainers are determined by the questions: “Have you ever tried alcohol?”, “Have you ever had a full serve of alcohol?” and “Have you had an alcohol drink of any kind in the last 12 months?”.

When Australians aged 12-17 years drink alcohol, how much do they consume?

The largest proportion (42%) of Australians aged 12-17 years who drink alcohol usually consume 1-2 standard drinks per drinking occasion. A substantial proportion (26%) consumes seven or more standard drinks.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

Please note: The quantity of alcohol consumed by school students differs from the quantity consumed by young people in the general population (see FAQ When Australian school students aged 12-17 years drink alcohol, what is the average amount consumed each week?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents data on the average amount of alcohol consumed over a week. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents data on the amount of alcohol usually consumed on a drinking occasion. 

Standard Drink: A drink that contains 10 grams (or 12.5 millilitres) of alcohol.

When Australians aged 12-17 years drink alcohol, do males or females drink more?

When Australians aged 12-17 years drink alcohol, males are more likely than females to drink seven or more standard drinks per drinking occasion. Females are more likely than males to drink three to six standard drinks.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: The quantity of alcohol consumed by school students differs from the quantity consumed by young people in the general population (see FAQ When Australian school students aged 12-17 years drink alcohol, do males or females consume more each week?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents data on the average amount of alcohol consumed over a week. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents data on the amount of alcohol usually consumed on a drinking occasion. 

Standard Drink: A drink that contains 10 grams (or 12.5 millilitres) of alcohol.

Do younger or older Australians aged 12-17 years drink more alcohol?

Among Australians aged 12-17 years, older youth tend to consume more standard drinks per occasion than younger youth.  

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: The quantity of alcohol consumed by school students differs from the quantity consumed by young people in the general population (see FAQ When Australian school students aged 12-17 years drink alcohol, does the amount consumed per week differ by age?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents data on the average amount of alcohol consumed over a week. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents data on the amount of alcohol usually consumed on a drinking occasion. 

Standard Drink: A drink that contains 10 grams (or 12.5 millilitres) of alcohol.

What proportion of Australians aged 12-17 years drink at levels that increase their short-term risk of injury?

Five percent of Australians aged 12-17 years drink at levels that increase their short-term risk of alcohol-related injury at least once per year, 6% do so at least once per month, and 3% do so at least once per week.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

Please note: All measures of alcohol drinks refer to standard drinks.

The proportion of school students who drink at risky levels differs from the proportion of young people in the general population who drink at risky levels (see FAQ What proportion of Australian school students aged 12-17 years drink at levels that increase their short-term risk of injury?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents data on short-term risky drinking during the past week. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents data on short-term risky drinking on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

Short-Term Risk of Alcohol-Related Injury: Current Australian alcohol guidelines state that drinking five or more standard drinks on any single occasion significantly increases short-term risk of alcohol-related injury.

Standard Drink: A drink that contains 10 grams (or 12.5 millilitres) of alcohol.

Are Australian males or females aged 12-17 years more likely to drink at levels that increase their short-term risk of injury?

Australian males aged 12-17 years are more likely than females to drink at levels that increase their short-term risk of alcohol-related injury on a monthly basis. Males and females are equally likely to drink at these levels on a yearly basis. 

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: All measures of alcohol drinks refer to standard drinks.

The proportion of school students who drink at risky levels differs from the proportion of young people in the general population who drink at risky levels (see FAQ Are male or female school students aged 12-17 years more likely to drink at levels that increase their short-term risk of injury?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents data on short-term risky drinking during the past week. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents data on short-term risky drinking on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

Short-Term Risk of Alcohol-Related Injury: Current Australian alcohol guidelines state that drinking five or more standard drinks on any single occasion significantly increases short-term risk of alcohol-related injury.

Standard Drink: A drink that contains 10 grams (or 12.5 millilitres) of alcohol.

Are younger or older Australians aged 12-17 years more likely to drink at levels that increase their short-term risk of injury?

Among Australian youth aged 12-17 years, older youth are more likely than younger youth to drink at levels that increase their short-term risk of alcohol-related injury on a yearly, monthly, or weekly basis.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding. All measures of alcohol drinks refer to standard drinks.

The proportion of school students who drink at risky levels differs from the proportion of young people in the general population who drink at risky levels (see FAQ Are younger or older Australian school students aged 12-17 years more likely to drink at levels that increase their short-term risk of injury?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents data on short-term risky drinking during the past week. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents data on short-term risky drinking on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

Short-Term Risk of Alcohol-Related Injury: Current Australian alcohol guidelines state that drinking five or more standard drinks on any single occasion significantly increases short-term risk of alcohol-related injury.

Standard Drink: A drink that contains 10 grams (or 12.5 millilitres) of alcohol.

Which alcohol beverages do Australians aged 12-17 years usually drink?

The largest proportion of young Australians aged 12-17 years usually consumes premixed spirits (either canned or bottled).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

Please note: Percentages do not tally to 100% as only the five most common beverage types are reported.

The beverage types usually consumed by school students differ from the beverage types usually consumed by young people in the general population (see FAQ Which alcohol beverages do Australian school students aged 12-17 years usually drink?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents the preferred beverage type of students who drank alcohol in the past week, excluding those who selected more than one beverage type. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents the preferred beverage type of students who drank alcohol in the past 12 months (including those who selected more than one beverage type). 

Do male and female Australians aged 12-17 years usually drink different alcohol beverages?

Among Australians aged 12-17 years, the type of alcohol beverage usually consumed varies by gender.  Females usually consume bottled premixed spirits, while males usually consume canned premixed spirits or regular strength beer. 

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015). 

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: Percentages do not tally to 100% as only the five most common beverage types are reported.

The beverage types usually consumed by school students differ from the beverage types usually consumed by young people in the general population (see FAQ Do male and female Australian school students aged 12-17 years usually drink different alcohol beverages?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents the preferred beverage type of students who drank alcohol in the past week, excluding those who selected more than one beverage type. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents the preferred beverage type of students who drank alcohol in the past 12 months (including those who selected more than one beverage type). 

Do younger and older Australians aged 12-17 years usually drink different alcohol beverages?

Among Australians aged 12-17 years, younger youth are more likely to usually consume bottled spirits/liqueur, while older youth are more likely to usually consume canned premixed spirits and regular strength beer. Youth of all ages are approximately equally as likely to usually consume bottled premix spirits and bottled wine. 

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: Percentages do not tally to 100% as only the five most common beverage types are reported.

The beverage types usually consumed by school students differ from the beverage types usually consumed by young people in the general population (see FAQ Do younger and older Australian school students aged 12-17 years usually drink different alcohol beverages?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) presents the preferred beverage type of students who drank alcohol in the past week, excluding those who selected more than one beverage type. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) presents the preferred beverage type of students who drank alcohol in the past 12 months (including those who selected more than one beverage type). 

Where do Australians aged 12-17 years drink alcohol?

The most common places where Australians aged 12-17 years consume alcohol are at parties (62%), at their own or their partner’s house (42%), or at a friend’s house (38%).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: Percentages do not tally to 100% as respondents could select more than one location. Only the 5 most common of 11 potential locations are reported.

The locations where school students consume alcohol differ from the locations where young people in the general population consume alcohol (see FAQ Where do Australian school students aged 12-17 years drink alcohol?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) asks respondents to select one of 14 locations of use, and excludes students who reported multiple drinking locations. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) asks respondents to select one (or more) of 11 locations of use. 

Do male and female Australians aged 12-17 years drink alcohol in different locations?

Both males and females aged 12-17 years are most likely to drink at parties at someone’s house, followed by at their own/their partner’s house or a friend’s house. 

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: Percentages do not tally to 100% as respondents could select more than one location. Only the 5 most common of 11 potential locations are reported.

The locations where school students consume alcohol differ from the locations where young people in the general population consume alcohol (see FAQ Do male and female Australian school students aged 12-17 years drink alcohol in different locations?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) asks respondents to select one of 14 locations of use, and excludes students who reported multiple drinking locations. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) asks respondents to select one (or more) of 11 locations of use. 

Do younger or older Australians aged 12-17 years drink alcohol in different locations?

Among Australians aged 12-17 years, older youth are more likely than younger youth to drink at parties at someone’s house or at a friend’s house.  

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2015).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: Percentages do not tally to 100% as respondents could select more than one location.  Only the 5 most common of 11 potential locations are reported.

The locations where school students consume alcohol differ from the locations where young people in the general population consume alcohol (see FAQ Do younger and older Australian school students aged 12-17 years drink alcohol in different locations?). This is due to the use of different survey measures. The school students’ survey (ASSAD) asks respondents to select one of 14 locations of use, and excludes students who reported multiple drinking locations. By contrast, the general population survey (NDSHS) asks respondents to select one (or more) of 11 locations of use.