Thursday 17 July 2014
Young people are waiting longer before they try drinking and drugs, showing prevention efforts are working, but have a long way to go yet.
Key findings from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey released this morning show that the age at which 14-24 year olds are having their first drink is being delayed, rising from 14.4 years to 15.7 years of age over the last decade and a half.
CEO John Rogerson said news that more young people are waiting longer, and more are abstaining from alcohol is great news for the Australian community.
"We know that the younger a person drinks alcohol, the more likely they are to binge drink and have a problem with alcohol later in life," Mr Rogerson said. "That's why we recommend that no one under the age of 18 consume alcohol."
"The proportion of young people aged 12-17 years old who are choosing not to drink has risen from 64% to 72% in just three years - showing trends are heading the right direction."
"We need to maintain our prevention efforts – including increasing community awareness of alcohol harms and boosting measures such as legislation to give parents more control of their child's access to alcohol. We encourage those jurisdictions which are yet to introduce secondary supply legislation - WA, SA and ACT - to do so immediately to help protect young Australians.
"We're also pleased to see overall a significant reduction over the last three years in the amount of Australians of all ages drinking at risky levels."
"These results, while they are encouraging, shouldn't be viewed or portrayed as 'job done'. Australia is still very much in the grip of a dangerous love affair with booze. Alcohol cost us more than $15 billion a year, causes more harm to the community than illicit drugs and is an unacceptable burden on our health care system, our emergency services and on our society."
Mr Rogerson said trends of illicit use of drugs held no real surprises.
"The increasing non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs is of great concern to us, with this survey showing nearly 5% of the community have misused them in the last 12 months.
"Alarmingly, we know more people are dying from pharmaceuticals than are dying on roads every year. While people may think they are safe because they come from a pharmacist, they are certainly may be very dangerous if used not as prescribed or if not prescribed for you.
"The use of meth/amphetamines overall has remained stable, although the use of speed is down and the use of ice (crystal methamphetamine) is up. Of concern to us is the increase in daily or weekly use of methamphetamines, particularly ice.
"We look forward to analysing the data in more detail in coming days and when the full report is released later in the year."
The key findings of the 2013 National Drugs Strategy Household Survey are available online at www.aihw.gov.au/alcohol-and-other-drugs/ndshs
For information and resources about drug effects and help available visit www.druginfo.adf.org.au
Media enquiries: Jennifer Willis 0430 948 380 or
About the Australian Drug Foundation: Celebrating more than 50 years of service to the community, the Australian Drug Foundation is one of Australia's leading bodies committed to preventing alcohol and other drug problems in communities around the nation. The Foundation reaches millions of Australians in local communities through sporting clubs, workplaces, health care settings and schools, offering educational information, drug and alcohol prevention programs and advocating for strong and healthy communities.