Prevalence and sociodemographic factors of risky drinking in Australian older adults Academic Article uri icon


  • Introduction and aims

    This study describes the prevalence of risky drinking in older adults (aged 60+ years) in Australia and explores the socioeconomic and lifestyle factors associated with this. The negative consequences of drinking behaviours in older adults were also explored.

    Design and methods

    Cross-sectional design, with data obtained from the Australian 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, yielding a sample size of 7976 participants. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the correlates of risky drinking.


    Approximately 17% of older Australians reported risky drinking and their most popular drinking location was in the home (93%). Respondents who were male [odds ratio 3.78, 95% confidence interval (3.22, 4.43)], of younger age group (60-69 years) [2.96, (2.25, 3.89)], in a higher socioeconomic status [1.76, (1.41, 2.21)], had no dependents [1.51, (1.10, 2.07)], were unemployed [1.64, (1.10, 2.44)] and were either current or ex-smokers [2.32, (1.90, 2.83) or 3.55, (2.95, 4.29)], were more likely to report risky drinking. Approximately 54% of risky drinkers experienced a negative outcome as a result of their drinking in the last year.

    Discussion and conclusions

    Risky drinking in older adults is a key public health issue, with a concerning rate of risky drinking and associated negative outcomes seen in the current study. Interventions aimed at older drinkers thus need to focus beyond socio-economically disadvantaged groups, while self-moderation on risky drinking, controlling accessibility to take-away alcohol and increasing the awareness of harms of risky drinking may help to reduce risky drinking among older people.

publication date

  • September 2020