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Health effects of alcohol on young people

Risky behaviours can occur when teenagers drink alcohol. Risky behaviour can have both short-term and long-term impacts, which is why it is important to change the community attitudes surrounding alcohol, and stop underage drinking from being the norm.

When young people drink alcohol, the way they drink, the culture that supports their drinking and how much they drink, increases the likelihood of them experiencing alcohol-related harm.

This is why for under 18’s, no alcohol is the safest choice.

 

The 2011 Australian School Student Alcohol and Drug Survey found of students who drank in the last week (17.5%), more than one-third (36.2%) drank at harmful levels for single-occasion alcohol-related harm. 1

 

1. Increase risk of accidental and violent injury:

  • The occurrence of risk-taking behaviours increases in adolescence and the possibility of injury increases even more when alcohol is also involved.3
  • Alcohol consumption in young adults is associated with physical injury, risky sexual behaviour, adverse behavioural patterns and academic failure.3
  • Adolescents are also more likely to get involved in a fight when they drink alcohol, compared with when they were sober.7

2. Mental health problems including depression, self-harm and suicide:

  • Alcohol use increases the risk for a range of mental health and social problems in young adults.4
  • The nature of the relationship between alcohol use and mental health in adolescence is somewhat reciprocal.4
  • Young people with poor mental health are more likely to initiate alcohol use in adolescents, and report drinking frequently. They are also more likely to drink with the intent to get drunk.56
  • Alcohol use may contribute to poor mental health.3
  • Adolescents who use drinking as a method of coping are more likely to suffer from depression, and can bring on heavy drinking, which is itself predictive of suicidal behaviour.6
 
References

1Bridle R, Christou A, Miller, J & King, T (2012). Australian School Student Alcohol and Drug Survey: Alcohol Report 2011 – Western Australian results. Drug and Alcohol Office Surveillance Report: Number 2. Perth: Drug and Alcohol Office.

2Department for Communities Office for Youth and Drug and Alcohol Office. (2007). Young People and Alcohol. Government of Western Australia

3National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Commonwealth of Australia. [online] 2009 Available from: URL: www.nhmrc.gov.au

4Brown & Tapert (2004) as cited in National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Commonwealth of Australia. (2009) Available from: URL: www.nhmrc.gov.au

5Weitzman (2004) as cited in National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Commonwealth of Australia. (2009) Available from: URL: www.nhmrc.gov.au

6Windle, M., (2004) as cited in National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Commonwealth of Australia. (2009) Available from: URL: www.nhmrc.gov.au

7Kodjo et al (2004) as cited in National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Commonwealth of Australia. (2009) Available from: URL: www.nhmrc.gov.au