Alcohol and farmers


Alcohol is widely used as a social drug, but it can cause many health, social, and safety problems when not used responsibly.

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 judgment and put you and others at greater risk of farm accidents.

Alcohol can also contribute to violence, road accidents and family conflict.

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. High risk drinking is when you drink more than 4 standard drinks on one occasion. It can cause serious short and long term health effects. If you are pregnant, 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.

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 country 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:
National Health and Medical Research Council
Drug and Alcohol Services (SA)
National Health and Medical Research Council
ReachOut Australia
Turning Point – Alcohol and Drug Centre
Clinical care:
Research & reviews:
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
National Centre for Farmer Health (via Sage Journals : Journal of Research in Nursing)

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: 8th November, 2016