While many stories in the media centre on our youth drinking problem, according to a new report released by NSW Health, the biggest daily drinkers are overwhelmingly over 65s.
The latest NSW Chief Health Officer’s report, Trends in alcohol use and health-related harms in NSW, revealed a new picture of community drinking patterns.
The report found that people are still drinking too much, with a quarter of all adults drinking at levels that put their long-term health at risk. But what may be surprising to some is that daily drinking is highest for people over 65 years and lowest for people aged 16-24 years.
NSW Health’s Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the report shows about one in seven people aged 65 years or over drank alcohol daily (14.8%) – substantially higher than the youngest age groups (0.8% of people aged 16-24 years and 3.3% of people aged 25-44 years).
“Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the main preventable public health problems in Australia, with alcohol use noted as the leading contributor to the burden of disease in Australia for people 25 to 44 years of age,” said Dr Chant.
“It not only affects the drinker but can also contribute to relationship and family problems, public intoxication, and other criminal offences. Alcohol use also increases the likelihood and extent of aggressive behaviour.”
When it comes to binge-drinking, the report showed that younger people still out-binged their elders – one in three 16-24-year-olds drank at levels that increased their long-term health risks compared to one in eight over-65s. But that still leaves 12.5 per cent of over 65s drinking at potentially dangerous levels.
But how do we know if a daily tipple is becoming problematic? It may be worth looking at when and where you are drinking. Socialising and being connected to others have been shown to have benefits particularly as we age, whereas drinking while lonely or to deal with other life issues could point to unhealthy drinking patterns.
What do you think? Do you enjoy a drink every day or do you subscribe to an ‘everything in moderation’ approach?