Alcohol and farmers


Alcohol is widely used in social interactions but it can cause many health, social, and safety problems when not used responsibly. One in four Australians drink at risky levels. People in farming communities are more likely to binge drink (consume alcohol at short-term risky levels) when compared with the general Australian population.

Farmers must take special care not to be under the influence of alcohol while using farm equipment, tractors, bikes, other vehicles or handling animals. Alcohol will affect your judgement and put you and others at greater risk of farm accidents and road accidents.

Alcohol can also contribute to violence, and family conflict. Recent research suggests that alcohol is involved in over 44% of family violence incidents and a significant contributor to child protection cases, with 10,000 Australian children in child protection due to the alcohol use of a carer. Alcohol is associated with an increased likelihood of violence occurring and an increase in the severity of harm that results from this violence.

If you drink, limit your alcohol to no more than two standard drinks a day and make sure you have two alcohol free days each week. Drinking at risky levels can cause serious short and long term health effects. 10-15% of all presentations to hospital emergency departments are alcohol-related. One in four road deaths are the result of  drink driving. If you are pregnant or in your teenage years, it is recommended that you do not drink alcohol at all.

Used excessively for a long time, alcohol can cause a range of health effects including (but not limited to) high blood pressure, liver damage, cancer of the mouth, throat and brain injury.

Rural issues – alcohol and depression

There is a strong link between alcohol misuse, depression and suicide. Self-medication with alcohol is a common, but unsafe and ineffective coping strategy for farmers and other people living in rural and remote areas. Alcohol only masks the symptoms of depression and stress, and can make you feel worse. Alcohol misuse is also a risk factor for suicide. Support services can assist rural people to find other ways to tackle tough times.

Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel

References used for this topic page

More information:

Australian Department of Health
Consultation Draft: National Alcohol Strategy 2018-2026

Alcohol and Drug Foundation
Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol [PDF ]

Alcohol and Drug Foundation
Reducing the risk of workplace alcohol and other drug problems

Alcohol and pregnancy

Drug and Alcohol Services (South Australia)
Drug and alcohol services

ReachOut Australia
Keeping safe and minimising risk when consuming alcohol

Turning Point – Alcohol and Drug Centre
Free 24/7 online counselling

National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund
Alcohol/drug-involved family violence in Australia

The hidden harm: Alcohol’s impact on children and families

Day Break – An app to help you change your relationship with alcohol

Clinical care:

The University of Adelaide, Government of South Australia, Drug & Alcohol Services Council
Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Clinical guidelines for nurses and midwives

NSW Health
Nursing and midwifery clinical guidelines – identifying and responding to drug and alcohol issues

Research & reviews:

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Reports and statistics about alcohol

National Centre for Farmer Health (via BMC Public Health)
The Alcohol Intervention Training Program (AITP): A response to alcohol misuse in the farming community

National Centre for Farmer Health (via Sage Journals : Journal of Research in Nursing)
Evaluation of an alcohol intervention training program for nurses in rural Australia

The Journal of Rural Health
Alcohol Consumption, Obesity, and Psychological Distress in Farming Communities—An Australian Study

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Identifying individual- and population-level characteristics that influence rates of risky alcohol consumption in regional communities

Journal of Agromedicine
Chronic disease and health risk behaviours among rural agricultural workforce in Queensland

Fast facts:


  • Alcohol, when not used responsibly, can damage your health and contribute to violence and accidents on the road and on the farm.
  • Food may slow down absorption of alcohol, but it will still hit your bloodstream and affect your judgement.
  • Don’t use beer to quench your thirst while working; it will increase your risk of accidents. Drink water or non-alcoholic drinks instead.


Last updated: 14th February, 2019