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Almost Half Of Aussie Drinkers 'Drink To Get Drunk'

Nearly half of Australia's drinking population, or about 6 million people, consume alcohol with the intention of getting drunk.

This number has risen steadily since 2011, with 47 percent of people drinking to intoxication at least once a month. Despite this, a whopping 87 percent of drinkers regard themselves as a "responsible" drinker.

In fact, 64 percent of Australians who drink to intoxication at least twice a week still consider themselves a responsible drinker.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) released the 2019 Annual Alcohol Poll: Attitudes and Behaviours poll on Wednesday and revealed Australians remain confused about what constitutes low and high-risk alcohol consumption and the health risks associated with it.

People Doing Shots
64 percent of people who regularly get drunk still consider themselves responsible drinkers. Photo: Getty Images.

One of the most worrying trends revealed in the survey shows 'drinking to get drunk' culture is on the rise, while the general alcohol consumption rate remains steady.

READ MORE: Aussies Knock Back Almost Double World Average Alcohol Amount

“Alcohol harm has continued to increase despite the fact that overall consumption has remained relatively constant over the past 10 years, with no significant fluctuations,” FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn said.

The poll, which surveyed 1,820 people, also found less than half of Australians are aware of the strong link between consuming alcohol and chronic illness.

“The poll found fewer than half of Australians are aware of the link between alcohol use and mouth and throat cancer (29 percent) and breast cancer (16 percent),” Thorn said.

 In 10 Australia Consider Themselves Responsible Drinkers
Photo: Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

FARE attributes this to mixed messaging when it comes to 'safe drinking' alcohol campaigns. Terms including 'drink responsibly' and 'drink in moderation' are vague and commonplace in alcohol marketing.

After ten consecutive reports, FARE has dubbed the last decade 'the decade of deception' for alcohol consumption. With one-in-22 Australians dying from alcohol-related illnesses, it's worrying that fewer than one-in-five Australians are aware of national guidelines about reducing alcohol risk.

Despite this, four out of five Aussies believe people have the right to know about a wide range of alcohol-related harms.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation is also concerned by both the results of the poll and mixed messages in alcohol marketing.

“Unfortunately, there are lots of mixed messages around alcohol but the evidence is clear," ADF CEO Dr Erin Lalor said.

There are no health benefits from alcohol.

"Cutting back can reduce a person’s risk of developing chronic alcohol-related diseases.

“All Australians must know that alcohol is a carcinogen. Alcohol damages cells in the body. Alcohol increases a person’s risk of cancer, including mouth, throat, breast and pancreatic cancer."

Half Of Australian Drinkers Get To Get Drunk
One-in-22 Australians die from alcohol-related illnesses. Photo: Getty Images.

READ MORE: Graphic New Ad Warns Of Link Between Alcohol and Cancer

FARE has called on the incoming government to address public confusion related to alcohol messaging.

“It was encouraging to see Labor’s modest announcement last week to address crucial areas that FARE has identified for attention," Thorn said.

These areas include targeted awareness campaigns about the risks of alcohol, putting pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products and protecting young people from alcohol advertising.

Alcohol-Cancer Risk
Photo: Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

The Greens have also pledged to establish an independent Preventative Health Commission that will focus on evidence-based preventative harm programs for alcohol.

Regardless of these announcements, the public doesn't predict Australia's relationship with alcohol will improve in the future.

More than half (53 percent) of people surveyed believe alcohol-related problems in Australia will worsen or remain the same over the next five to 10 years.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au