Annual Alcohol Poll 2020: We drink more alcohol and most often at home – even before COVID-19 lockdowns

The home is where the majority of Australians who use alcohol have the largest quantity per occasion and drink most freque­­ntly, rather than at pubs, clubs or restaurants.

The Annual Alcohol Poll 2020: Behaviours and Attitudes (the Poll) found that 67 per cent of Australians who drink alcohol had the largest quantity on one occasion in the past 12 months in the home, which is also where the majority (73 per cent) drink most frequently.

The Poll by YouGov Galaxy, for the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), was conducted in January/February just before the COVID-19 lockdown measures were introduced.

FARE CEO Caterina Giorgi says drinking in the home is a long-standing trend that has since intensified.

“Despite what many of us assume, people who drink alcohol are more likely to do so at home – and this is true even before the lockdown measures. This is the case whether people are younger or older, women or men, or living in major cities or regional areas,” Ms Giorgi said.

The Poll finding that the majority of people listed home as the place they drank the largest quantity of alcohol is consistent across generations with 60 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds drinking the most on one occasion at home, as well as 77 per cent of people 50 and older.

The Poll also found that 80 per cent of people 50 and older and 62 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds drink most frequently at home, as do men (71 per cent) and women (75 per cent), and people in major cities (71 per cent) and regional areas (80 per cent).

“Drinking in the home is widespread, yet we don’t often think about the harms from alcohol occurring in the home because they’re largely invisible. Alcohol increases the severity and frequency of family violence and contributes to a range of cancers and alcohol dependence. These harms have significant negative impacts on children, families and whole communities,” Ms Giorgi said.

The Poll also examined alcohol retail online and found that of people who had ordered alcohol online in the past 12 months, 23 per cent had alcohol delivered at least weekly and almost half (44 per cent) had alcohol delivered within two hours.

Of the people who had online retailers deliver within two hours 70 per cent drank more than four standard drinks that day, while 38 per cent drank 11 or more standard drinks that day.

“Retailers are pushing alcohol into homes at all hours, with delivery as soon as 30-minutes. These practices are contributing to riskier alcohol use, and commonsense measures such as introducing a two-hour delay between online orders and delivery, are needed to prevent harm,” Ms Giorgi said.

The Poll found online alcohol retailers were not routinely checking ID, with only 38 per cent of people indicating their ID was checked on delivery and 25 per cent saying the alcohol was left unattended. “Everyone selling alcohol should be required to check IDs because no-one should be able to sell alcohol to children, which is illegal in pubs, clubs and bottle shops. But there’s a gaping hole in our laws around online alcohol sales where there is zero requirement for ID checks. This loophole needs to be closed to keep our children, families and communities safe,” Ms Giorgi said.

FARE is an informed media source and a well-respected voice on the global science relating to alcohol and its impact on society.

If you are a journalist seeking media spokespeople or information please do not hesitate to contact us. FARE can provide expert comment on a wide range of alcohol-related issues.

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