The 1998 National Drug Strategy Household (NDSH) Survey was used to make estimates of how much alcohol was drunk in excess of draft national drinking guidelines (NHMRC, 2000). New questions were introduced to this survey specifically to make estimates of the volume of consumption that was in excess of low risk limits in addition to the usual calculation of umbers of drinkers who regularly exceed such limits (WHO, 2000).
The draft NHMRC Drinking Guidelines (NHMRC, 2000) define low risk drinking as (i) no more than 28 standard drinks per week for men and 14 drinks per week for women for long-term or chronic health consequences (e.g. liver disease, cancers, alcohol dependence), and (ii) no more than 6 drinks in one day for men and 4 drinks for women for short-term or acute health consequences (e.g. injuries, acute pancreatitis) provided that the individual is not operating machinery, driving, working, using medication or suffering from certain physical conditions. In addition high risk levels were defined for this study on the basis of the earlier NHMRC definition of 'harmful' drinking (1992) and more recent recommendations from WHO (2000).