Drinking in New Zealand

Past year drinking

In 2020/21, almost four in every five (or 78.5%) New Zealand adults aged 15+ year had an alcoholic drink in the past year This prevalence was significantly lower than in 2019/20 (81.6%) and had returned to around the level of past-year drinking in 2011/12 (79.5%).

Almost 4 in every 5 New Zealand adults have consumed alcohol in the past year

Males (81.8%) were more likely to drink than females (75.2%).

For more detail on past-year drinking, click here.


Hazardous drinking

The overall prevalence of, and inequities in, hazardous drinking in the total population has remained unchanged over many years. In 2020/21, almost one in every five (or 19.9%) New Zealanders had a hazardous drinking pattern. This equates to 824,000 NZ adults aged 15+ years. 

Almost 1 in every 5 New Zealand adults has a hazardous drinking pattern that places them and/or others at risk of harm

Note: ‘Hazardous drinking’ refers to an established alcohol drinking pattern that carries a risk of harming the drinker’s physical or mental health or having harmful social effects on the drinker or others. It is determined by using the World Health Organisation's AUDIT checklist - a score of 8 or more indicates hazardous drinking.

Males (26.9%) were 2 times as likely as females (13.2%) to be hazardous drinkers.

Whilst 18 to 24 year olds maintain the highest prevalence of drinking in the country (total 34.9%; 41% for men, 28.5% for women), hazardous drinking patterns remain prevalent throughout older age groups in New Zealand, particularly among men.

Inequities in consumption persist - in 2020/21 Māori were more likely to be hazardous drinkers than non-Māori, especially for wāhine Māori who reported a hazardous drinking prevalence that was 1.89 times higher than non-Māori women. Māori men reported a hazardous drinking prevalence 1.61 times higher than non-Māori men. 

For more detail on hazardous drinking, click here.


Heavy episodic drinking at least monthly

In 2020/21, 21.4% of adults aged 15+ reported consumption of six more or more drinks on one occasion, at least monthly.

More than 1 in every 5 New Zealand adults report monthly consumption of 6+ drinks in one occasion

Heavy drinking at least monthly, significantly decreased among the age group of 45-54 years (30%), compared with 24.6%, respectively, in 2019/20. These are one-year increases; we await further data to determine whether this is a real trend or random fluctuation.


Heavy episodic drinking at least weekly

In 2020/21, 12.1% of adults aged 15+ reported consumption of six or more drinks on one occasion, at least weekly.

Almost 1 in every 8 New Zealand adults report weekly consumption of 6+ drinks in one occasion

Heavy episodic drinking at least weekly significantly decreased among the age group of 45-54 years (14.9%), compared with 19% in 2019/20. These are one-year increases; we await further data to determine whether this is a real trend or random fluctuation.


Alcohol use disorders

There is a lack of information on the number of New Zealanders with a diagnosis of alcohol use disorders.

In 2006, it was estimated that just over 4% of the population in their lifetime will experience alcohol addiction and 11% will experience alcohol abuse.

In 2006, it was found that 4.2% of the population reported symptoms of alcohol abuse (2.6%) or dependence (1.3%) in the past year. This equates to over 100,000 New Zealanders.


Note

Every year (since 2011/12), the Ministry of Health carries out the largest survey into the health and well-being of New Zealanders. It is called the New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS).

The survey is designed to yield an annual sample size of approximately 14,000 adults aged 15 years and over. The data is collected at the respondents’ homes, with the interviewer entering responses directly into a laptop computer and/or asking the respondent to complete a section of the interview by themselves using the laptop computer. The 2020/21 survey, taking place during the pandemic, also used a computer-assisted video interviewing (CAVI) approach for a small sample of participants.

The NZHS 2020/21 represents the sample selected for the period September 2020 to August 2021. For some periods in 2020 and 2021, the survey was suspended in parts of New Zealand that had known community outbreaks of COVID-19. As a result, the sample size for 2020/21 is smaller than usual and the 95% confidence intervals around some estimates are wider than usual. The methodology report is available here.

In 2020/21, the final weighted response rate was 77%. The final sample was 9,709 adults aged 15 years and over.


Learn more here

 

   

What we drink

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Drinking in the past year

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Trends in hazardous drinking

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Drinking trends in adolescents

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Drinking trends in older adults

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Covid-19 and NZ drinking

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