How Australians Party

It’s holiday season and Australians are ready to kick back. So how do we, as a bunch, do it? Fortunately, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare had its fact sheets ready to go earlier in December.

How much do Australians drink?

Australians consume 9.5 litres of pure alcohol per year per person over the age of 15, about 760 standard drinks. This puts us ahead of the average for OECD countries (which includes lightweights like Indonesia, Turkey, Israel, China and several Latin American nations), but well behind Germany, France, Spain, the UK, Ireland, and all of eastern Europe.

Beer is still the main vehicle for our boozing, accounting for 39% of the alcohol we drink. This is way down on peak beer, which we passed in 1968 when beer accounted for 73.5% of all alcohol. 

These days, wine is closing in, now making up 38.6%. It’s gone up from 14.4% in the same time period.

What proportion of Australians Smoke Weed?

When it comes to smoking cannabis, more of us are getting into it than before, with 11.6% of us smoking compared to 10.4% in 2016. The average Australian weed smoker is 35 years old and 3 times more likely than the norm to be lesbian, gay or bi. A third of weed smokers light up at least weekly.

What other drugs to Australians use?

Cocaine comes in at third, used by 4.2% of Australians 14 or over. That’s up from 2.5% in 2016.

Ecstasy is the next most popular, followed by hallucinogens, meth, nangs and the infamous liver-destroying horse-tranquilizer, ketamine. Despite outsized risks to the bladder and internal organs, ketamine use has more than doubled since 2016.

Drinking isn’t correlated with lack of education. Those with a higher level of formal education are actually more likely to be weekly drinkers. This is especially true for women, who are 82% more likely to be weekly drinkers if they have a degree.

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