Reducing Health Risks Associated With Drinking Alcohol

Responsible Service of AlcoholMost Australians drink alcohol for enjoyment, relaxation and sociability, at levels that cause few adverse effects. However, there are some who drink at levels that increase their risk of alcohol-related harm. RSA staff at licensed venues should understand that alcohol can cause significant ill-health and hardship for some people.

The 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines have been developed to allow individuals to make informed decisions regarding the amount of alcohol that they choose to drink. They go beyond looking at the immediate risk of injury and the cumulative risk of chronic disease, to estimating the overall risk of alcohol-related harm over a lifetime. The guidelines relate to:

  • Reducing the risk of alcohol-related harm over a lifetime

  • Reducing the risk of injury on a single occasion of drinking

  • Children and young people under 18 years of age

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

There are also a number of additional factors that influence the risk of alcohol-related harm. These factors should be considered when making an informed decision regarding the amount of alcohol that an individual chooses to drink. They include:

  • Specific situations where alcohol has the potential to endanger life, for example: when drinking is combined with activities such as driving, operating machinery or supervising children

  • Groups that can be at increased risk if they drink alcohol, for example: young adults (18–25 years), older people (60+ years), people with a family history of alcohol dependence, and people who use drugs illicitly

  • People who may need to seek professional advice about drinking, for example: people taking medication, people with alcohol-related or other physical conditions, and people with mental health conditions

Most Australians who drink alcohol do so at levels that has few adverse effects. However, RSA staff  should understand that any level of drinking increases the risk of ill-health and injury.