If binge drinking by the young is a growing problem then there has to be a lot of older people drinking considerably less. Official figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics out this week show there has been virtually no change in alcohol consumption per head over the last decade.
In 2007-08 the figures put the apparent consumption by people aged 15 and over (the ABS chooses 15 to our figures can be compared with those of other countries) at just under 10 litres per head. It was slightly down on apparent consumption in the previous year and on a par with the figures for every years since 1996-97.
What has changed over the last decade is the form in Australians take their alcohol. Beer is the big loser down from 5.3 lals (litres of pure alcohol) per head in 1996-97 to 4.6 lals in 2007-08. The wine share grew steadily until 2003 but has since levelled off.
Where the increased consumption has come from is in spirits and in ready-to-drink forms of alcohol which are largely, but not entirely, spirits based. Between them spirits and RTDs now contribute 2.3 lals per head to the total whereas a decade ago it was around 1.8 lals.
Despite the figures showing total alcohol consumption remaining steady, the media continues its fascination with stories of alcohol abuse with the Sydney Daily Telegraph showing the way the morning with this headline: