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Research and Statistics
Two recently published articles question the perceived health benefits of alcohol that are often raised in the media and promoted by the alcohol industry. The Cancer Council of Australia recently developed a Position Statement on alcohol and cancer risk, stating that any level of alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing an alcohol-related cancer and the level of risk increases in line with how much is drunk. The other, from the Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC), challenges the commonly-held belief that red wine is beneficial for preventing cardiovascular disease.
UK-based Drug and Alcohol Findings is a project which aims to “encapsulate studies’ findings, set them in context and to explore the implications for practice”. This authoritative review finds that school programs which work best at preventing youth drinking problems are not specifically about alcohol at all, but instead target problem behaviour more generally. It also emphasises that in respect of preventing harmful drinking, no type of psychosocial intervention has attracted as much scientific support as population-wide changes like price rises and outlet restrictions which affect everyone, independent of the choices they make.
Independent UK think tank Demos has released a report called ‘Under the Influence‘ examining the impact of parenting style on their child’s future drinking behaviour. Researchers analysed data from more than 15,000 children born in Britain over the last 40 years as part of the study. They found the “tough love” style of parenting, which combined warmth and discipline, was the most effective in ensuring against children developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Conversely, ‘bad parenting’ at 16 made children more than eight times more likely to become binge drinkers at that age and twice as likely to drink excessively when they were 34.
The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) report was released on July 27, 2011 and was the first to exclusively use the ‘drop and collect’ method. Previous surveys had used a combination of computer-assisted telephone interviews and drop and collect, or personal interviews.
This survey showed positive reductions in daily tobacco smoking; mixed findings on alcohol consumption and risk; and a small overall rise in illicit drug use. More than 26,000 people aged 12 years or older participated in the survey, in which they were asked about their knowledge of and attitudes towards drugs, their drug consumption histories, and related behaviours. Most of the analysis presented is of people aged 14 years or older, so that results can be compared with previous reports.
DARTA has produced a Powerpoint presentation highlightling many of the findings included in the report.
This report from the UK-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation presents the findings from a major study of young people and their relationship with alcohol, and explores the wide range of influences on their drinking. The study surveyed 5,700 teenagers aged 13–14 (Year 9) and 15–16 (Year 11) in schools in England and examines the strongest influences on and predictors of young people’s drinking.
Although it is UK data, much of what is discussed is relevant to the Australian experience. In addition to this report there are a number of others on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation website dealing with young people and alcohol that make for interesting reading.
This Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publication provides estimates of apparent consumption of alcohol based on the availability of alcoholic beverages in Australia. It provides estimates of the quantity of pure alcohol available for consumption from beer, wine, spirits, and ready to drink (pre-mixed) beverages, plus estimates of the total volume of beer and wine available for consumption. For beer, data is available for 1944-45 onwards. For wine, estimates of pure alcohol are available for 1960-61 onwards while estimates of the volume of wine are available from 1944-45 onwards. For spirits, estimates of pure alcohol are available for 1960-61 onwards. The link can be found here.
Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2008
This is the 9th survey in a series assessing use of tobacco and alcohol, and the 5th to include questions on use of over-the-counter and illicit substances, by secondary students aged between 12 and 17 years. Although certain jurisdictions (e.g., SA, WA and ACT) released their own data earlier, this is the national data and can be compared to previous ASSAD surveys. The link can be found here.
DARTA has produced a 2007 Microsoft Powerpoint presentation highlighting some of the major findings of this survey.