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Alcohol Awareness

Focus on youth drinking

New research released by The Salvation Army as part of its 2009 Alcohol Awareness campaign reveals that 2.3 million Australians had their first alcoholic sip or drink when they were just 10 years old or younger, and 12.1 million Australians are not aware of the new national guidelines on alcohol which indicate that for 15 to 17 year olds, the safest option is to delay the initiation of drinking for as long as possible.

The new research also shows:

  • 1.7 million Australians believe it is safe to give someone 12 or under an occasional sip of alcohol.
  • 5 million Australians believe it is safe for someone 15 years or under to be given occasional sips of alcohol.
  • 7 million Australians had their first alcoholic sip or drink in their home.
  • 8.8 million Australians had their first alcoholic sip or drink when they were with their family.
  • 7.8 million Australians suggested they should have their first drink or sip of alcohol themselves; 2.9 million said parents suggested it.

Research by White and Hayman carried out in 2007 found rates of drinking at harmful levels by 12-17 year olds has doubled in the past two decades.  It was estimated by NDARC (the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre) in 2008 that Australia's under-age drinkers consume more than 175 million drinks a year. 

Statistics now show alcohol accounts for 13% of all deaths of 14-17 year olds in Australia with one teenager dying each week of alcohol related causes and another 60 teenagers hospitalised.

Australian alcohol guidelines: reducing the health risks

Guideline 1: Reducing the risk of alcohol-related harm over a lifetime

The lifetime risk of harm from drinking alcohol increases with the amount consumed.

For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.

Guideline 2: Reducing the risk of injury on a single occasion of drinking

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

For healthy men and women, drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.

Guideline 3: Children and young people under 18 years of age

For children and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

A. Parents and carers should be advised that children under 15 years of age are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking and that for this age group, not drinking alcohol is especially important.

B. For young people aged 15−17 years, the safest option is to delay the initiation of drinking for as long as possible.

Guideline 4: Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Maternal alcohol consumption can harm the developing fetus or breastfeeding baby.

A. For women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option.

B. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option.

National Health and Medical Research Council

 

Previous research by The Salvation Army revealed that 4.3 million people (25%) say alcohol has had a negative impact on them or their family and that more than two million people report children being embarrassed or scared as a result of alcohol consumption within their family and close to two million people have experienced physical arguments or threats as a result of alcohol consumption within their family.

The Salvation Army is not an anti-alcohol. Rather, it seeks to highlight the huge negative impact alcohol abuse and misuse is having on Australian families and the community.