23 Jan, 2015 Last updated: 20 Jul, 2015

A new survey from VicHealth, in partnership with FebFast, shows that many Australians are drinking at risky levels, but the majority of respondents do not think their alcohol consumption will have a significant impact on their future health.

Download the media release

Australians’ attitudes toward their health, alcohol consumption and taking a break from alcohol
reveals that almost half (46%) of those surveyed reported drinking at levelsi associated with significant risk of short-term harm according to national responsible drinking guidelinesii

More than 2000 people aged 18 and older across Australia participated in the online survey, which was aimed at understanding Australians’ key concerns regarding their general health, wellbeing and alcohol consumption. 

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said the findings were concerning. 

“Eight out of ten Australians (77%) aren’t worried about their drinking, when in fact many drink at a level that is putting them at risk of short-term harm – with up to half of all younger people being classified as risky drinkers. 

“In Australia, alcohol is second only to tobacco as a preventable cause of drug-related death and hospitalisation. In 2010, alcohol was the cause of 5544 deaths and more than 150,000 hospitalisations in Australia,” Ms Rechter added.

“We know from our work in previous years that the Australia Day weekend is a peak time for alcohol-related harm, including hospital admissions to the emergency department.

“The vast majority of people in this survey (87%) agreed that the health risks associated with consuming too much alcohol was a serious issue for the Australian community, but this typically doesn’t translate when we look at our own drinking. VicHealth and FebFast want people to know that it’s ok to have a drink or two when socialising at events, but that drinking in excess of the Australian guidelinesiii puts them, and others around them, at risk,” Ms Rechter said. 

FebFast patron, Prof Rob Moodie, recommended that people take a break from alcohol by signing up for the FebFast program.  Since 2007, the campaign has inspired nearly 1,000,000 alcohol-free days. 

“FebFast is a 28-day challenge that encourages people to say no to their ‘vices’ for the month of February while raising money to support young people experiencing alcohol and other drug-related problems.

“With 69% of Australian drinkers saying they would consider giving up alcohol for 28 days, FebFast is a great way to give the body a healthy break and better understand your relationship with alcohol,” he added. 

A previous VicHealth evaluation of the FebFast program, conducted in 2011, found that almost half of those surveyed who had given up alcohol for the month of February reported drinking less alcohol after participating in the 28-day challenge. 

This year FebFast is introducing new fasts and participants can now choose to take a break from alcohol, sugar, junk food, social media or smoking. 

“FebFast is Australia's biggest fundraiser to help kids sort out their drug and alcohol problems. FebFast has raised over $7 million in seven years. So when you take part you're not only helping yourself, but you're also helping some of the country's most vulnerable young people,” Prof Moodie added.

To register visit www.febfast.org.au
Download the factsheet: Australians’ attitudes toward their health, alcohol consumption and taking a break from alcohol

Media Contact: Helen Walsh, Senior Media Advisor, 03 9667 1319 or 0435 761 732 or email [email protected].
i 46% of respondents reported drinking five or more standard drinks on a single occasion in the last three months.

ii The ‘Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol’ recommends drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease, and no more than four standard drinks on a single drinking occasion to reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.

iii Ibid