Older Aussies still drinking at risky levels, data shows

The latest health data has revealed many older Australians are drinking at alarming levels and are much more likely to drink daily than their younger counterparts.

But the same group is also giving up booze at the fastest rate of any generation, according to the results of the 2022-23 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS).

Compiled annually by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the NDSHS is a snapshot of the nation’s drug and alcohol habits and informs government health policy.

This year’s survey has revealed older Aussies as a group have a complicated relationship with alcohol.

The results showed Australians aged in their 50s (32.3 per cent) and 60s (33.2 per cent) were more likely to drink to ‘risky’ levels than the general public aged 14 and over (30.7 per cent).

In the survey, ‘risky’ is defined as someone who averages more than 10 standard drinks per week, or more than four on any given day, in the previous 12 months.

Breaking it down along gender lines, women in their 50s (28 per cent) and men in their 60s (44 per cent) were more likely to drink more than the recommended amount than the general population (23 per cent for women and 39 per cent for men).

Interestingly, those aged in their 70s (24.9 per cent) were less likely to drink to excess than the community average, meaning either people are slowing their drinking in their final years or that heavy drinkers are less likely to live past 70.

More likely to drink every day

Despite having a lower percentage of excessive drinkers, those in their 70s are the most likely of any age group to drink every day (11.7 per cent), followed by people in their 60s (8.5 per cent) and 50s (6.5 per cent). The results show the proportion of people drinking daily increases with age.

Along gender lines, men are significantly more likely to be daily drinkers than women in their 50s (8.3 per cent for men and 4.7 per cent for women), 60s (11.2 per cent and 6.0 per cent) and 70s (15.3 per cent and 8.5 per cent).

Less likely to binge drink

While daily drinking levels remain highest among older Australians, it seems they are more consistent drinkers, and are less likely to have large shifts in consumption from day to day.

For example, the group most likely to consume more than 11 standard drinks in one day is the 18-34 age group, while the least likely were people in their 60s (6.2 per cent) and 70s (3.5 per cent).

The number of people in the 50s, 60s and 70s age groups who do drink to that level has remained constant since 2019.

The NDSHS showed ‘risky drinkers’ in the 50s and 60s age groups were around 10 per cent more likely than the general population to suffer from an alcohol-related disease or injury.

How many standard drinks do you consume per week? Would you say you’re a ‘risky’ drinker? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: Light to moderate drinking may help your heart

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. I’m not sure how to relate to this article, my drinking habits have certainly changed over the years I’m in my 70s most of my mates are of a similar age, in years past if I went to the cricket especially on the hill at the SCG the beer flowed non stop, during the week I didn’t drink at all, some of my mates drank daily going straight to the pub/club from work, so no doubt they would be in the risky group, I worked in the clubs part time, many of the workers who came straight from work would consume 4/5 schooners so thats triple the risky level per week, as we aged we drank less and less often, I think maybe children arriving may have been a big factor, weekends usually being reserved for sporting events, taking kids to footy, netball , cricket and swimming.I would expect that as people aged their drinking habits would change according to their circumstances, in my circle of friends our drinking definitely decreased and many of us changed to low alcohol beer, I wonder if that was taken into consideration when doing the survey.

- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -