Australians have been named the world’s heaviest drinkers after spending more time drunk in 2020 than any other country.
An international survey found that Australians drink to the point of intoxication on average 27 times a year, nearly double the global average of 15. Almost a quarter of Australians said they regret getting intoxicated.
The World Drug Survey asked more than 32,000 people in 22 countries about their drug and alcohol use last year.
On average, Australians drank alcohol at the global average of two nights per week and became heavily drunk about once every two weeks. The French exceeded this metric, drinking about three times a week.
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Australian participants also tripled the global average in seeking emergency care for their alcohol consumption (3.9% compared to the global average of 1.2%).
The director general of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Caterina Giorgi, said the statistics were “concerning” and that a clear picture of the impact of harmful alcohol consumption during the pandemic was only taking shape.
“Australia leads the world both in the number of times people report being drunk and in seeking emergency medical treatment for alcohol… These two indicators suggest that people are drinking at high levels. quite risky, ”she said.
“We have seen a sharp increase, which has been sustained in calls for help to drug and alcohol helplines, and an increase in the involvement of alcohol in calls for domestic violence.
“There is an emerging image [that] there is a significant proportion of people who drink at riskier levels… to cope with stress and anxiety. These habits are hard to break as we continue to live in this Covid environment. “
Giorgi said there had been a $ 3.3 billion increase in home alcohol sales in 2020 – a trend that continues into 2021.
“In such uncertain times, there has been a sustained change in the way alcohol is sold. Businesses aggressively market, use Covid, and take advantage of anxieties to sell their products, ”she said.
“We have this perfect storm for increased alcohol harm and we’re just starting to see it.”
A joint study by Turning Point and Monash University found that ambulance attendance for alcohol-related damage increased 9% in Victoria last year, as the state was subject to Covid restrictions .
“We have seen people’s mental health suffer greatly throughout this pandemic and especially when we put in place strict measures that have limited our normal activities and our connection with support networks,” said the executive clinical director. from Turning Point, Professor Dan Lubman.
“Drinking alcohol at the end of the day has often been touted as a reward and a way to cope, with easy access to alcohol in stores and via online delivery throughout the pandemic. “
Commonwealth Bank data shows total alcohol spending increased in March 2020, possibly due to alcohol storage during Covid restrictions, a trend that has continued.
Global Drug Survey researcher Dr Monica Barratt said the high rate of drunkenness in Australia could be linked to the fact that most of the country avoided Covid lockdowns in 2020.
Bar Victoria, most states and territories have experienced only short and severe shutdowns, with relatively few cases or deaths, allowing hospitality venues to remain open and events to continue.
“It may have something to do with Australia being the top ranked country for frequency of drunkenness,” Barratt told The Latch.
Interestingly, while New Zealanders got drunk fewer times than almost every other country in the survey, getting drunk about 10 times a year, they drank more frequently than Australians, about three times a week.
The Danes and Finns spent the most time drinking to excess after the Australians, tied 23.8 times a year. Americans came in third, getting intoxicated on average 23 times in 2020, followed by the British (22.5 times).
Frequency of intoxication – top 10 countries
If you need help, go to FARE.org.au or call National Alcohol and Other Drugs Helpline at 1-800-250-015.
Take part in the 2022 Global Drug Survey here.