Skip to main content

Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs

Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs can all increase your risk of dementia and many other health problems. 

But it’s never too late to change. For people who want to change their behaviour and improve their health, there is support. 


Excessive alcohol consumption is a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia, including younger onset dementia. 

The Australian government’s alcohol guidelines recommend: 

  • no more than ten standard drinks per week 
  • no more than four standard drinks in any one day 
  • at least two alcohol-free days per week. 

Talk to your GP if you’re drinking more than the recommended guidelines. Even if you’ve already been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, changing your habits can help. There is expert support for reducing your alcohol consumption that is respectful, private and sensitive. 


Smoking tobacco increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia. There is no safe level of smoking. 

It’s never too late to stop smoking, and there are many great resources to help you quit. Get started today by calling Quitline or Aboriginal Quitline on 13 7848. 

Other drugs 

Any drug you take interferes with the way your brain works and can directly damage its structure and functioning. Over time, that can lead to permanent changes in the brain. It’s these changes that can raise your risk of developing dementia. 

For more on the way drugs affect your brain and dementia risk, read our booklet Think Ahead( 2 MB)

Share or print
Last updated
1 February 2024