Risky Drinking

Did you know young people aged 16-24 are the heaviest drinkers in Australian society?

In NSW, over 46% of males and 43% of females are drinking at levels that could pose a serious risk to their health if they drink at this level during their lifetime.

Over half of this group drink at levels which place them at risk of an alcohol related injury on any single drinking occasion. (NSW Health Statistics, 2011)

Young people are particularly vulnerable to acute harms such as violence and injury, sexual assault and brain damage.

Over 260 young people aged 15-24 die each year as a result of drinking to intoxication. Many people think that these deaths are mainly due to alcohol related road crashes. However, deaths from alcohol poisoning, violent attacks and suicides are often related to binge drinking.

Approximately 40% of suicides are preceded by acute use of alcohol (Roche, A et al 2008)

Australian Alcohol Guidelines Recommend:

  • Young people under 18 should not drink alcohol.
  • For men and women 18 years + drinking no more than two standard drinks a day reduces your risk of alcohol-related disease or injury. Your risk increases if you drink three or more per day.
  • It is illegal to serve alcohol to anyone who is under 18 years of age. This includes private parties as well as in licensed premises.

To learn more about the effects of alcohol on your brain, and what you can do to stay safe, go to Alcohol and the brain – youth wallet card

The RRISK (Reduce Risk Increase Student Knowledge) Program

RRISK is a health promotion program that addresses risk-taking behaviour amongst year 11 students in the Mid North and North Coast of NSW. First developed in 1999, the RRISK program has grown rapidly in response to demand, initially involving 300 students from 9 high schools and now attracting over 4900 students from 58 schools across northern NSW from Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie.

RRISK not only educates young people about road risks but helps them adopt safer behaviours by providing them with practical skills and strategies to manage risks across many aspects of their social lives by addressing binge drinking and drug use, safe partying and encouraging them to look after their friends.

RRISK is successful because of its relevance to young people. It complements the school curriculum; is considered core business by partners; is well supported by peak organisations; and receives excellent media coverage.  Evaluations have been published in peer-reviewed journals and the program has been a finalist in the National Drug and Alcohol Awards and winner of the North Coast Area Health Service Excellence Award and Excellence in Road Safety Award.