Young people’s beliefs and concerns

To understand why young people drink we need to know what influences their decision to drink, and why they choose not to drink. Below is a summary of the results from the Commissioner of Children and Young People 2011 survey.1

In 2011, the Commissioner of Children and Young People conducted research with young people aged 14 to 17 years about alcohol and the harm it causes. This research highlighted concerns young people have about alcohol and what influences their decisions about whether or not to drink. Some of the key points that this research revealed are highlighted below.

What influences young people to drink alcohol?

  • Whether their parents are supportive of them drinking.
  • A perception that the culture of excessive alcohol consumption is normal in the Australian community and that the majority of adults drink.
  • A belief that there is a culture among their peers of drinking to get drunk.
  • Their friends.
  • The availability of alcohol. The easier it was to get the more likely they were to drink.
  • Beliefs such as ‘drinking is fun’, ‘won’t have a good time without it’, ‘easier to socialise’, ‘makes you more confident’, ‘to relieve problems’, ‘to relax and it’s what everyone does, it’s normal’. 2

Young people’s reasons for not drinking alcohol

  • Don’t want or need to drink.
  • Want to be healthy and don’t want alcohol to interfere with the ability to do more important things such as playing sport or music.
  • Loss of their parents’ trust.
  • Wanting to stay in control.
  • Personal or religious values. 2

Young people’s concerns about alcohol

Overall, the harms identified by young people included: physical health effects, mental and emotional harm, financial consequences, legal consequences and damage to personal relationships. 2

Of most concern were the immediate effects of drinking too much alcohol such as:

  • Violence and gate crashing at parties.
  • Consequences of drinking and driving.
  • Harm that someone may experience while drunk.
  • Doing embarrassing things they later regret.
  • Ruining their reputation.
  • Having photos of them when drunk put on social media sites.
  • Unwanted sexual advances.
  • Fighting with other people or friends.
  • Physical and verbal abuse.
  • Ruining friendships. 1

View the Commissioner of Children and Young People’s report, Speaking Out About Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm.


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

2 Commissioner for Children and Young People (2011). Speaking Out About Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm 2011. Available from: Out About Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm.pdf