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New report highlights need for alcohol education

Tuesday, 28 Aug 2018

Tobacco smoking and illicit drug use is declining among young people, however, the consumption of alcohol at risky levels remains high, according to the latest report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The data comes from the AIHW’s ‘Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia’ study, which examines the health burden from the use of legal and illegal drugs in Australia.

Millennial drug experimentation has fallen rapidly, with rates among 18–24 year-olds dropping from 37.1% in 2001 to 28.2% in 2016.

Similarly, smoking is plunging among young people, with the daily smoking rate halving between 2001 and 2016 for both young men (24.5% to 12.3%) and young women (23.5% to 10.8%).

Young people are still engaging in risky drinking, but at lower rates. The rate fell from 13.5% of young men engaging in a single occasion of risky drinking in 2013 to 9.1% in 2016, with the rate among young women falling from 11.3% to 6.8% over the same period.

Key findings from the AIHW’s ‘Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia’ study

Life Ed CEO, Verity Blackman, said the younger generation is to be congratulated for leading the way in these encouraging trends.

“It is important to recognise that when it comes to health and wellbeing our young people are doing a good job and – when given the necessary support to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills – will make safe and healthy choices,” Ms Blackman said.

However, there is still work to be done in educating young people about the associated harms of alcohol consumption, particularly when it comes to risky drinking, Ms Blackman said.

In 2016, 15.3% of young adults aged 18–24 consumed more than 11 standard drinks on one occasion.

Children and young people are still exposed to alcohol and its inherent dangers and existing school-based education programs play a key role in these promising trends.

Life Ed’s program includes age and stage appropriate modules focusing on drug and alcohol prevention including On the Case, Think Twice, Decisions, and Face the Facts.

Drugs and alcohol trends among young people in Australia