Developing a profile of alcohol consumption patterns of police officers in a large scale sample of an Australian police service

Eur Addict Res. 2000 Dec;6(4):205-12. doi: 10.1159/000052047.


The current study aimed to examine the prevalence of alcohol use within a large sample (n = 4,193) of Australian police offers. Prevalence and at risk behaviour was measured through the use of a self-report survey containing the AUDIT and standard frequency and quantity questions. Results indicated that although police did not report drinking with high frequency when compared to the national statistics, they did drink in far greater quantities. Further, both males and females in the police sample reported high rates of binge drinking. The 18- to 25-year old age group reported the highest levels of frequency and quantity of alcohol consumed. Twenty-five percent of officers reported having drunk whilst on duty. An alarming proportion of the sample (30%) scored in the 'at risk of harmful consumption' category on the AUDIT while a further 3% scored in the 'alcohol dependant' category. Examination of demographic variables revealed that males, 18- to 35-year-olds, those divorced or separated, constables, operational personnel and officers who have served between 4 and 10 years were the groups most likely to fall in the risk category on the AUDIT. This was similar for the alcohol-dependant category except that males and females were equally likely to fall in this category. In conclusion, a significant number of police officers displayed at risk alcohol consumption behaviour; in comparison to earlier studies this proportion is not decreasing. Interventions and education programmes are needed within the police workplace, particularly in regard to the dangers of binge drinking for females and youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Police / statistics & numerical data*
  • Workplace