Australian culture is marinated in alcohol.
We drink to survive screaming children at first birthday parties, to celebrate wins and commiserate losses and to toast important milestones like the middle of the week, the strike of midday and breakfast.
On average, Aussies over the age of 15 drink about 12.2 litres of pure alcohol each a year. That is the equivalent to about 480 beers, 135 bottles of wine or 40 bottles of vodka each.
This is down from the early 19th century when each of us drank about 13.6 litres of pure alcohol a year, but up from the late 1990s when we consumed less than 10 litres each.
We're not the only ones with a reputation for being dirty booze-hounds.
Rightly or wrongly, the Russians are renowned for drinking vodka at breakfast, the Irish seem to have a pub every three metres, even outside their own country, the Germans wear ridiculous hats and dress up just to drink while the South Koreans sing about their hangovers.
Yet none of these nations are the biggest drinkers.
In the World Health Organisation's latest review of worldwide drinking patterns, Belarus took that dubious honour. Belarussians consume, on average, 17.5 litres of pure alcohol each a year, drinking Moldovans, who placed second, under the table.
Other Eastern European countries make up the bulk of the top 15.
Australia, true to reputation, slips in, coming equal 14th with France and Croatia. That makes us bigger boozers than the Irish, the Brits and the Germans but not as big as the Russians or South Koreans.
Our favourite tipple is beer, but globally, 50.1 per cent of the total recorded alcohol is consumed in the form of spirits, followed by beer (34.8 per cent), wine (8 per cent) and "other" beverages.
And although many of us might drink purely for pleasure, there is a sobering side to the habit.
A new national survey has revealed that Australians over the age of 50 are the biggest drinkers (and abusers of prescription medication) and they often drink to dull loneliness.
"For many, loneliness is a factor that contributes to substance abuse and alcoholism, particularly in older men," said psychologist Cameron Brown of the survey of more than 1000 Australians, commissioned by drug and alcohol treatment centre The Cabin Chiang Mai.
"Someone who feels excluded, alone, or unable to connect with others may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate which may lead to addiction."
Addiction is just one possible outcome.
The WHO report attributes harmful use of alcohol to about 3.3 million (or 5.9 per cent of all deaths) deaths a year worldwide.
To put this in perspective, this is greater than the number of deaths caused by HIV, road injuries and violence combined.
Harmful use of alcohol is the leading risk factor for death in males aged 15 to 59 years, yet, they say, there is evidence that women may be more vulnerable to alcohol-related harm.
Making the top 20 of this list, based on these figures, is one we might not want to raise a glass to.
The story Aussies are bigger boozers than the Brits, but Belarus tops the list first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.