Last drinking occasion: number of drinks and time spent drinking: In Fact

HPA's Attitudes and Behaviour towards Alcohol Survey (ABAS) is an annual survey that monitors New Zealanders' behaviour and attitudes towards alcohol. This fact sheet reports on the number of alcoholic drinks consumed and the length of time spent drinking alcohol on the last drinking occasion involving two or more alcoholic drinks among adults aged 18-years and older from the 2013 ABAS.

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Commissioning agencies
Date of last publication
Jun 2015


Participants in the 2013 ABAS were asked about the last occasion they had two or more alcoholic drinks. Respondents were asked to describe how many alcoholic drinks they had consumed, and how long the drinking occasion was (in hours). Multiple responses were permitted when respondents were asked about the type of alcohol they consumed on their last drinking occasion. The analysis for the number of alcoholic drinks consumed during, and the length of the drinking occasion was restricted to adult respondents (18-years and older) whose last drinking occasion was within three months (n=2,109).

Current HPA advice for adults to minimise the risk of harm for drinking alcohol is that women should drink no more than four standard drinks and men no more than five standard drinks on any one drinking occasion (Health Promotion Agency, 2015). The number of drinks consumed on the last occasion was split into three categories based on HPA’s low-risk drinking advice with different categories for men and women. The categories used for analysis were men: up to 5, 6 to 10, over 10 drinks; women: up to 4, 5 to 8, over 8 drinks. The number of alcohol drinks consumed and time spent drinking were examined by gender, age group and ethnicity. Only those group differences that were statistically significant (p < .05) are reported.

Key Results

• Nearly two-thirds of adult drinkers (64%) reported that the last drinking occasion where they consumed two or more drinks was within the last month.

• Over two-thirds of adult men (71%) and adult women (72%) reported drinking up to five drinks (males) or up to four drinks (females) on their last drinking occasion (drinks here are not necessarily standard drinks).

• Young adults (18 to 24-years-old) were significantly more likely to drink more than five drinks for men or four drinks for women than all other age groups.

• The average drinking occasion lasted 3.9 hours, with 69% of drinking occasions lasting up to four hours in length.

• Those more likely to have a drinking occasion lasting five or more hours were females, 18 to 24-year-olds, and Māori and Pacific people.

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