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. 

71% of male and 72% of female Australians aged 12-17 years abstain from alcohol. 14% of male and 17% of female Australians aged 12-17 years drink yearly. 11% of male and 9% of female Australians aged 12-17 years drink monthly. 4%* of male and 2%* of female Australians aged 12-17 years drink weekly. * Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

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?”.