Drinking in New Zealand

Past year drinking

In 2019/20, four in every five (or 81.5%) New Zealand adults aged 15+ year had an alcoholic drink in the past year (no change overall since last year, but significantly higher than in 2014/15 (79.5%)).

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

Males (84.6%) were more likely to drink than females (78.5%).

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


Hazardous drinking

In 2019/20, one in every five (or 20.9%) New Zealanders had a hazardous drinking pattern. This equates to 838,000 NZ adults aged 15+ years. 

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 (28.7%) were 2.1 times as likely as females (13.6%) to be hazardous drinkers.

Whilst 18 to 24 year olds maintain the highest prevalence of drinking in the country (32.4%; 36.8% for men, 27.9% for women), hazardous drinking patterns remain prevalent throughout older age groups in New Zealand, particularly among men.

Inequities in consumption persist - in 2019/20 Māori were more likely to be hazardous drinkers than non-Māori, especially for wāhine Māori who reported a hazardous drinking prevalence that was 2.2 times higher than non-Māori women. Māori men reported a hazardous drinking prevalence 1.6 times higher than non-Māori men. 

For more detail on hazardous drinking, click here.


Heavy episodic drinking at least monthly

In 2019/20, 22.4% of adults aged 15+ reported consumption of six more or more drinks on one occasion, at least monthly.

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

Heavy drinking at least monthly, significantly increased among the age groups of 15-17 years (14.7%) and 45-54 years (29.8%), compared with 7.7% and 24.6%, respectively, in 2018/19. As above, 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 2019/20, 11.9% of adults aged 15+ reported consumption of six or more drinks on one occasion, at least weekly.

1 in every 9 New Zealand adults report weekly consumption of 6+ drinks in one occasion

Heavy episodic drinking at least weekly significantly increased among the age group of 45-54 years (18.8%), compared with 14.5% 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

  • Due to COVID-19, three months are missing from the data collection for the 2019/20 NZHS as data collection ceased on March 19, 2020. No adjustments or imputations have been done to account for the impact this has had on the results. The sample size for the 2019/20 NZHS was 9,699, with a 75% response rate.

    The Ministry of Health looked at the indicators over the past surveys to determine how many showed seasonal variation, and therefore caution to be applied to the results. Alcohol use in the total population did not show variation; this may reflect the AUDIT questions asking participants to recall behaviours over the past 12 months.

  • The above statistics, from the annual NZ Health Survey 2019/20, are collected from July 2019 until late March 2020 (pre-COVID). For research on drinking patterns during and post-lockdown, please click here.

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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