Alcohol consumption fell sharply in Adelaide at the height of coronavirus lockdown measures in April, analysis has revealed.

Researchers from the University of South Australia have published results from wastewater testing which showed daily consumption fell to about 698 standard drinks each day for every 1000 people.

This compared to about 1047 drinks each day during February this year.

Biological chemist Bradley Simpson said the results showed that South Australians were very good at lockdown and followed the rules diligently.

“As a consequence, the study results showed a clear decline in drinking across weekdays and a real flattening of the usual weekend spike in consumption,” he said.

“When all the regular drinking venues were closed – pubs, clubs, bars – the drop off in drinking was dramatic.”

As part of an ongoing analysis of the alcohol metabolite ethyl sulphate in Adelaide wastewater, the university’s research team has been collecting seven-day wastewater samples every two months since 2016.


The SA study sampled wastewater catchments representing 1.1 million South Australians or about 75 per cent of the state’s population over seven days.

Dr Simpson said the results went against national surveys which asked people how much alcohol they bought and consumed during lockdown which tended to show an increase in drinking.