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Research and Statistics
The Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey examines school-based young people’s use of licit and illicit substances. A PDF version of the 2017 survey results, together with another report examining trends identified in the ASSAD survey between 1996–2017, is available on the Australian Government’s National Drug Strategy website. The findings are mostly positive, particularly when it comes to alcohol and tobacco. The number of 12-17-year-olds who reported never drinking alcohol increased once again to more than one third (34%), up from only one in ten in 1999. Lifetime use of ecstasy had doubled amongst 12-17-year-olds since 2014, however, with 16% of 17-year-old males reporting ever having used the drug.
DARTA has produced a downloadable presentation on these results in both PPT and PDF formats.
New research from LaTrobe University found that 30% of Australians recently reduced the amount of alcohol they drank and a further 29% reduced the frequency of their drinking, while 6% quit altogether. Most interestingly, those in their 20s were leading the way in reducing alcohol intake, citing lifestyle reasons such as work, education and family as to why they made the change. “Most surprisingly, we found that intoxication is not as acceptable as it once was, with more than a third of 14 to 30-year-olds who had quit drinking doing so because they dislike the impact alcohol has on their social experiences,” said lead researcher Dr Amy Pennay. “They believe in moderation, they are concerned about violence and they want to avoid drunkenness or genuinely dislike how getting drunk makes them feel.”
More than 3 million people died as a result of harmful use of alcohol in 2016, according to the Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018 released by the World Health Organization (WHO). This represents 1 in 20 deaths. More than three quarters of these deaths were among men. Of these deaths, 28% were due to injuries, such as those from traffic crashes; 21% due to digestive disorders; 19% due to cardiovascular diseases, and the remainder due to infectious diseases, cancers, mental disorders and other health conditions. Globally an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol-use disorders with the highest prevalence among men and women in the European region (14.8% and 3.5%) and the Region of Americas (11.5% and 5.1%).
Apparent consumption of alcohol per person has dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s, according to an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report. The total alcohol consumed in Australia was equivalent to 9.4 litres for every person in Australia aged 15 years and over, the lowest annual figure since 1961-62. The media release states that this can be expressed as the average Australian “consuming the equivalent of 224 stubbies (375 ml) of beer, 38 bottles (750ml) of wine, 17 bottles (375ml) of cider, four bottles (700ml) of spirits and 33 cans (375ml) of premixed ready to drink varieties”. While 224 stubbies may sounds like a lot, it’s half of what was being consumed in 1974-75 “when Australia reached ‘peak beer’ and the consumption was equivalent to over 500 stubbies per person.”
Using four longitudinal studies from both Australia and New Zealand, up to 9000 participants were assessed on multiple occasions between the ages 13 and 30 years. The researchers claim that the study provides the “most robust evidence to date that there is a causal relationship between adolescent drinking and alcohol problems in adulthood”. One of the most important findings was that frequency of drinking during adolescence predicts substance use problems in adulthood as much as, and possibly more than, heavy episodic drinking (i.e., ‘binge drinking’). So when a parent says their child “only has a couple of beers when they go out on the weekend – he doesn’t get drunk!”, believing that to be protective – this study debunks that myth. Teen experimentation with alcohol does not promote responsible drinking: instead, it sets a young person up for later–life problem drinking. A media release outlining the major findings is available.