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

Among Australian youth 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.

93% of Australians aged 12-15 years abstain from alcohol, 6% drink yearly, 2%* drink monthly and 0% drink weekly. 56% of Australians aged 16-17 years abstain from alcohol, 24% drink yearly, 15% drink monthly and 4%* 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). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

* 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 ‘abstainers’ among young people in the general population differs from the proportion of school students who have ‘never consumed’ alcohol due to the use of different survey measures. In the secondary students’ survey (ASSAD), those who have never consumed alcohol are defined as those who had not had even a sip of an alcoholic drink in their lifetime. In the general population survey (NDSHS), abstainers are those who have never had a full serve of alcohol.

Proportions of young people in the general population who drink yearly, monthly, or weekly also differ from proportions of school students drinking yearly, monthly, or weekly due to differences in survey measures. The ASSADS measure indicates any alcohol use (even one drink) and the proportions overlap.  The NDSHS measure indicates usual drinking frequency over the past 12 months and proportions do not overlap.