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Young people’s alcohol consumption

Young people's alcohol consumptition in Western Australia

The Western Australian (WA) data obtained in the 2011 Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug Survey showed that:

Between 2008 and 2011 there has been an increase in the number of students (aged 12-17 years) in WA not drinking alcohol, but those that do drink are drinking at harmful levels.

 

Rates of alcohol use declining

  • Rates of alcohol use for 12-17 year olds peaked in 1999 and have been decreasing since then.
  • The difference between 1999 and 2011 levels of alcohol use is statistically significant across use in the last week (36.1% vs. 17.5%), last month (50.7% vs. 29.7%), last year (74.3% vs. 53.3%) and ever used (90.1% vs. 76.1%).
  • In 2011, almost 1 in 4 (23.9%) students had never consumed alcohol. This is a significant increase from 1 in 10 students in 1993 (10.3%) and 1 in 6 students in 2008 (15.9%) 1.

Risky drinking increase for those that drank in the last week:

Based on adult guidelines, of those students who drank in the last week (17.5%), more than one-third (36.2%) drank at risky levels for single occasion alcohol-related harm. Just over two-fifths of males (40.6%) and almost one-third of females (31.8%) drank at risk.

  • There has been a statistically significant increase in the proportion of students drinking at risky levels from 1993 (20.9%) to 2011 (36.2%). 1

For students of ‘school leaver’ age

Of the 17 year old students surveyed who drank in the previous week:

  • Males drank an average of 8.8 standard drinks.
  • Females drank an average of 7.4 standard drinks. 1

For 17 year old male students:

  • Nearly 1 in 25 were non-drinkers (3.7%).
  • 9 out of 10 drank in the last year (89.9%).
  • Nearly two thirds drank in the last month (65%).
  • More than two fifths drank in the last week (41.8%). 1

For 17 year old female students:

  • Nearly 2 in 25 were non-drinkers (7.7%).
  • Almost 9 in 10 drank in the last year (86.8%).
  • More than half drank in the last month (51.1%).
  • More than one third drank last week (35.6%). 1

Click here to view the full report, and past results for Western Australia.

How a young person drinks poses a risk to their health and safety.

On a single occasion of drinking, the risk of alcohol-related injury increases with the amount consumed. 2

Based on the best available evidence about alcohol-related harm and young people the National Health and Medical Research Council advise that:

  • For children and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking is the safest option.
  • Children under 15 years of age are at greatest risk of harm from drinking and for this age group, not drinking alcohol is especially important.
  • The safest option is to delay the initiation of drinking alcohol for as long as possible.2

Most school aged young people do not drink alcohol regularly. However, on the occasions when young people do drink, they commonly drink more alcohol than is defined as low-risk for adults.**:

  • Of the 17 year olds surveyed who drank in the last week (38.7%), almost half (48.6%) of them drank at risky levels for single occasion alcohol-related harm.
  • The proportion of 16 to 17 year olds surveyed that reported drinking at risky levels for single occasion of harm has increased from 35.2% in 1993 to 45.9% in 2011. 1

**The National Health and Medical Research Council advise that for healthy adult men and women, drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of injury arising from that occasion. 2

Where do young people get alcohol from?

The main source of a young persons’ (aged 12 to 17 years) last alcoholic drink in 2011 was reported as most commonly:

  • Parents – 28.2%.
  • Friend – 26.4%.
  • Someone else – 23.1%.
  • Siblings – 8.6%.
  • Took from home – 5.2%. 1

For 17 year olds, the main source of their last alcoholic drink in 2011 was most commonly:

  • Someone else who bought it for them – 29.2%.
  • Friends - 20.8%.
  • Parents – 18.4%.
  • A drive in bottle shop – 12.2%.
  • At a licensed liquor store/supermarket – 8.8%. 1
 
References

1 Bridle R, Goggin, L., & Christou, A. Alcohol Trends in Western Australia: ASSAD Survey 2011. Perth: Drug and Alcohol Office, 2012.

2 National Health and Medical Research Council.(2009). Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol: Commonwealth of Australia