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Alcohol Cultures Framework

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This framework is a tool for those with an interest in changing risky drinking cultures to reduce harm from alcohol products



The Alcohol Cultures Framework - Web version (PDF, 250 MB)

The Alcohol Cultures Framework - Print version (PDF, 254 MB)

A background paper on the Alcohol Cultures Framework (PDF, 280 KB)

What do we mean by risky drinking?

When people drink in risky ways, it can lead to harmful side effects such as injuries, social problems, and poor mental health. This can cause problems for both the person drinking and the people around them.


What is an alcohol culture?

This is the term we use to describe how different groups of people drink when they get together. A person’s drinking habits are often influenced by the way their friends, family, or social group behaves around alcohol.


Why alcohol cultures?

This approach shifts the focus from the behaviours of individuals to the shared activities and practices of a group which we call a social world. This is one of many strategies that we are using to help change the cultures that can cause people to drink too much.


Where do we focus our intervention activity?

Alcohol culture change isn’t about telling people that they can’t have a few drinks with their social group. It’s about changing the practices within groups to minimise harm from alcohol. To do this, we need to understand three separate but overlapping elements:

  • the settings in which a group drinks (for example at a sports game, at a birthday party, or in a pub)
  • the social know-how or skills the group shares in drinking together (for example, buying rounds or shouting drinks or the way they manage drunkenness)
  • and the shared meanings of drinking among the group (Is risky drinking encouraged by members of the group? Is someone made fun of if they choose not to drink?)


What does a culture that prevents harm from alcohol look like?

A group or culture that doesn’t encourage risky drinking would include people being supportive of those who choose to drink less. This may be as simple as making it more acceptable to choose water over beer when going out with friends. This results in less alcohol-related harm for the individual, their family, bystanders and the broader community.

By defining alcohol culture and providing a lens for designing and implementing programs, practitioners with an interest in shifting risky drinking cultures can use the Framework as a planning tool to reduce harm from alcohol-related products.

Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
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Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.