National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

Australian secondary school students' use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2011

4.8 How do students see themselves in relation to drinking alcohol?

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Table of contents

Students were asked to choose the label that described their drinking behaviours from the following: non-drinker, occasional drinker, light drinker, party drinker, and heavy drinker. The labels chosen by males and females in each age group are shown in Table 4.10.

Table 4.10: Self-description of drinking behaviour by age and gender, Australia, 2011

Non-drinker
12 yrs
(%)
13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
88.6
84.6
72.9
60.6
45.4
31.5
66.1
Females
91.7
86.2
75.9
58.1
41.0
30.9
65.7
Total
90.1
85.4
74.4
59.4
43.2
31.2
65.9
Occasional drinker
12 yrs
(%)
13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
7.8
9.2
15.5
19.3
22.0
25.0
15.9
Females
4.4
8.2
13.3
20.1
24.9
27.8
15.8
Total
6.1
8.7
14.4
19.4
23.4
26.5
15.9
Light drinker
12 yrs
(%)
13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
1.9
2.6
3.7
6.2
5.5
7.1
4.3
Females
2.6
1.9
3.7
5.2
5.0
6.1
4.0
Total
2.3
2.3
3.7
5.7
5.2
6.6
4.2
Party drinker
12 yrs
(%)
13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
1.3
3.0
6.8
12.7
25.5
33.1
12.4
Females
1.2
3.4
6.8
16.2
28.1
34.7
14.1
Total
1.3
3.2
6.8
14.5
26.8
33.9
13.3
Heavy drinker
12 yrs
(%)
13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
0.4
0.5
1.0
1.2
1.7
3.2
1.2
Females
0.1
0.3
0.2
0.3
1.1
0.5
0.4
Total
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.4
1.8
0.8
Around 66% of all students saw themselves as non-drinkers. The proportion of students identifying as non-drinkers decreased with age for both males and females (p<0.01).

The proportion of students seeing themselves as occasional drinkers or party drinkers increased with age (p<0.01) and peaked among 17-year-olds at 27% for occasional drinkers and 34% for party drinkers.

More females reported to identify as a party drinker than did males (p<0.01), whereas more males identified as heavy drinkers than did females (p<0.01).

Table 4.11 shows the relationship between the place where current drinkers consumed their last drink and how they obtained this last drink and the three most common labels for drinking: non-drinker, occasional drinker and party drinker.

Table 4.11: Where current drinkers^ who describe themselves as ‘non-drinker’, ‘occasional drinker’ and ‘party drinker’ consume alcohol and how they obtained it, Australia, 2011#

Non-drinker

Alcohol obtained from:
12 – 15 yrs
(%)
16 – 17 yrs
(%)
Parents
58.1
50.6
Friends
13.5
29.8
Someone else bought it for me
1.5
1.7
Where alcohol was consumed:
12 – 15 yrs
(%)
16 – 17 yrs
(%)
Home
50.0
54.5
Party
16.2
12.3
Friend’s place
7.8
16.2

Occasional-drinker

Alcohol obtained from:
12 – 15 yrs
(%)
16 – 17 yrs
(%)
Parents
40.8
36.3
Friends
27.6
24.7
Someone else bought it for me
6.7
18.6
Where alcohol was consumed:
12 – 15 yrs
(%)
16 – 17 yrs
(%)
Home
45.8
32.9
Party
20.7
31.6
Friend’s place
14.3
21.1

Party drinker

Alcohol obtained from:
12 – 15 yrs
(%)
16 – 17 yrs
(%)
Parents
18.6
28.5
Friends
26.9
20.2
Someone else bought it for me
34.9
32.3
Where alcohol was consumed:
12 – 15 yrs
(%)
16 – 17 yrs
(%)
Home
20.3
15.6
Party
48.6
48.5
Friend’s place
14.9
18.1

^ Current drinkers: students who drank on any of the past seven days.
# Percentages exclude responses from students who reported multiple drinking locations and multiple drink sources.

Current drinkers who identified as non-drinkers and occasional drinkers mainly obtained their alcohol from their parents and mainly consumed it at their home.

Close to half of all younger and older current drinkers who identified as party drinkers consumed their last drink at a party.

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