The world is in the grip of an "alcohol epidemic", Seven's Morning Show reported in March
, with public health lobbyist Michael Thorn
brought on to explain why Australians were drinking more now than in the 1930s. "There are rising and very high rates of youth alcohol-related problems in the young adult age group in Australia," another public health academic declared in May
. Alcohol consumption was "well and truly an epidemic", the Victorian AMA president claimed
in February, while calling for a national alcohol summit. The head of the Drug and Alcohol Council demanded measures to address the alcohol epidemic in November last year
. Binge drinking had reached "epidemic proportions
" the head of the Western Australian police force said last June.
Last week we got another opportunity to test these claims. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare conducts the National Drugs Strategy Household Survey every three years, involving over 24,000 people, and offers the most comprehensive snapshot of Australians' behaviour and attitudes regarding drugs as well as sound data for long-term trends. And the AIHW has just started releasing the latest survey
, from 2013.
So how goes the "alcohol epidemic", the "rising rate of youth alcohol-related problems" and the "binge drinking" epidemic? Do we need a national summit on alcohol? According to the survey results, the number of Australians who don't drink at all is now at the highest level ever recorded in the survey. And the incidence of people who drink every day is at its lowest.