Are today’s teens creating a new culture of sobriety?


Teenagers walking on a beach

Modern teenagers are changing Australia's reputation for excessive drinking with new research from the Australian Secondary Students Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD) showing that secondary school students are drinking and smoking less than ever before.

Smoking amongst teens

In 2017, 82% of all secondary students in Australia had never smoked up from 77% in 2011. Not only are fewer students smoking then in 2011 but students are smoking fewer cigarettes with those reporting smoking over 100 cigarettes down to 2%.

Most-secondary-students.png Source: Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD)

Alcohol use

Although any alcohol consumption is risky for teenagers, teen drinking statistics from the report show an encouraging trend. Fewer secondary students are drinking alcohol with 66% students reporting having ever tried alcohol down from 74% in 2011.

Risky drinking was lower among both male and female 16 and 17 year olds in 2017 than in 2011. For older teens who are current drinkers, risky drinking levels were also lower in 2017 than in 2011. This suggests that while the percentage of older students that used alcohol in these time periods has declined slightly, these older students were consuming less alcohol when they drank.

One of the key findings from the report was that young people who drank consumed more alcohol per week if they drank at a party, than if they drank at home or at a friend's place.

Fewer-secondary-students.png Source: Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD)

What teenagers think

In terms of attitudes, 70% of all the teens surveyed saw themselves as non-drinkers and 38% of young drinkers reported that they intended to get drunk most or every time they drank.

While older male teens reported being more likely to drink alcohol to get drunk than their female counterparts.

More female students than male reported negative experiences after drinking alcohol, negative outcomes were also more common for older teens rather than young.

According to the report the most common negative events after drinking alcohol were:

  • vomiting 39%
  • trying a cigarette 33%
  • trying drugs 23%
  • having an argument 21%

Of the students who drank, 28% overall reported doing things they regretted while drinking.

Illicit drug use

The study also looked at illicit drug use in secondary students. Contrary to what parents may perceive with recent media coverage, the study showed that the vast majority of students had never tried drugs.

Cannabis was the most commonly used illicit substance among secondary students with 15% of students having tried the drug. 2% of all secondary students had tried Methamphetamine or Cocaine and 5% had tried MDMA and Ecstasy.

98-percent-never-used.png Source: Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD)

Need help? Get the support your family needs through the Family Drug Support service. Or to talk to someone about your own alcohol or other drug use, you can call the Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) NSW on 1800 250 015.

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