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Subset of Australian teenagers engaging in high risk alcohol consumption

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Despite an overall decline in alcohol consumption among Australian youth, alcohol-related harm remains prevalent in the population and a priority area among injury prevention practitioners.

The prevalence of acute and chronic alcohol-related harm among Australia youth is the result of a subset of Australian teens who continue to engage in ‘high intensity’ drinking episodes. This population is historically under-represented in national health survey and only recently have their drinking practices and experience of alcohol-related harm been investigated.

A study from the National Drug and Research Institute at Curtin University, Monash University and the University of New South Wales surveyed a sample of ‘heavy drinking’ 16 to 19 year olds in Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales and examined the context of their last risky drinking session.

The study found that males in the sample consumed an average of 17 standard drinks per drinking episode while females consumed an average of 14 standard drinks. 86% of teens in the sample reported experiencing at least one alcohol-related consequence during this session which include riding in a vehicle with an intoxicated driver, regrettable impulsive behaviour, memory loss and engaging in sexual activities.

Participants reported that their most recent drinking sessions were “normal get-togethers”, predominantly birthday parties and took place in private homes.

Dr Tina Lam, a researcher at Curtin University states: While we have been witnessing more abstinence (from alcohol) in young people, we have not seen a decline in arrivals at the emergency departments.

“It is concerning that there is a group of teens who are still putting themselves at substantial risk”, she said.

Alcohol is a risk factor for both injury and a multitude of chronic health conditions. To learn more about how alcohol increases the risk of specific injury types occurring visit: http://knowinjury.org.au/know/

If you work with young people at risk of alcohol-related harm the Ausdtralian Government Initiative ‘Be The Influence: Tackling Binge Drinking’ is a fantastic source of information, visit: http://www.tacklingbingedrinking.gov.au/

To access the article: Most recent risky drinking session with Australian teenagers visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1753-6405.12598/abstract