This page contains information about the short and long-term harms associated with drinking and suggestions on how to cope with peer pressure.
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What are the harms associated with drinking to intoxication?
Fast FactsFour Australians under 25 die due to alcohol related injuries in an average week.
One in two Australians 15-17 who get drunk will do something they regret.
70 Australians under 25 will be hospitalised due to alcohol-caused assault in an average week.
On average, 1 in 4 hospitalisations of people 15-24 happen because of alcohol.
Drinking to intoxication can put you into situations that might be dangerous, embarrassing, or which you may later regret. Every time you drink, you are at risk of causing harm to yourself or others.
Risky and/or high risk drinking can result in both short and long-term harms, including:Back to Top
The risks associated with short-term
harm can include immediate health and social problems, such as:
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- injuries from violence (as a perpetrator,
- a victim, or a witness);
- pedestrian and road accidents (death/severe injury);
- trauma related admissions to hospital emergency departments;
- alcohol poisoning;
- social and personal consequences such as the impact on families and social embarrassment;
- loss of valuable items i.e. phone or wallet; and
- having unprotected sex and placing yourself at greater risk of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and/or an unwanted pregnancy.
Risky and high risk drinking during early adulthood may also have serious longer-term consequences, including:
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- social problems, such as spending more time drinking than pursuing other interests;
- brain damage, including the inability to learn and remember things;
- depression and suicidal thoughts;
- the development of chronic disease, including some cancers and heart disease;
- cirrhosis of the liver; and
- dependence on alcohol.
Levels of risk
The 2009 Australian Alcohol Guidelines (AAGs)1
provide a framework for categorising low risk,risky and high risk drinking for both short and long-term harm.
The level of risk associated with drinking both in the short term and the long term depends on a variety of factors. But generally:
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- Low risk levels define a level of drinking at which there is a minimal risk of harm.
- Risky levels are those at which the risk of harm is significantly increased beyond any possible benefits.
- High risk drinking levels are those at which there is substantial risk of serious harm, and above which risk continues to increase rapidly.
It is illegal for someone under the age of 18 to drink or buy alcohol in most states.
Even getting someone who is 18 to buy or supply you alcohol in a licensed venue or public place is illegal in most states. You and the person supplying the alcohol could be fined.
Excessive drinking can lead to alcohol-related violence and assault, and could lead to a criminal record or fines for those persons found guilty of an offence.
It is also illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol. In some states if you are a learner or provisional driver, having any alcohol in your system is illegal. Drink driving puts the driver, passengers, pedestrians and other drivers at serious risk of injury or death.2
You may not realise it at the time, but alcohol seriously affects your general driving judgement and reaction times.
Losing your license from drink driving or having a criminal record from alcohol-related assault or violence will impact your life more than you think. It can limit job opportunities and hanging out with friends.Back to Top
Coping with peer pressure
It’s not always easy being a teenager. You can find yourself in situations where it can be difficult to say no because your friends are doing whatever it is they want you to do. You can always say no to alcohol. Here are some tips for what to do when you feel under pressure to drink.3
What should I say?3
What should I do?
- ‘No thanks’.
- ‘I don’t feel like it’.
- ‘I’ll just have a soft drink thanks’.
- ‘Not for me’.
- ‘I’ll pass this time thanks’.
- Saying no and standing up for what you believe will often seem hard at first but feels good once you do it.
- Being assertive and saying how you feel can earn you respect among your friends. Make it clear to your friends that you expect them to be supportive and not pressure you into something you don’t want to do.
- Hang out with friends that make you feel good about yourself and who don’t pressure you into drinking. Being part of the ‘cool’ crowd isn’t always as fun as it may look.3
- In a difficult situation, you can always put a drink down and walk away from it.3
- Suggest activities that you and your friends can do that don’t involve alcohol, such as a games night, movie night or dinner where everyone brings a specially cooked dish.
- Stand up for others facing peer pressure. If you feel comfortable in a particular environment take a stand against those who pressure others into drinking.
Remember, making decisions that are best for you is all part of being an individual. Taking ownership of your actions can feel empowering. Being an individual can still mean you that are accepted and valued as a group member.Back to Top
If you or a friend is experiencing problems with alcohol or other related issues there are help and support services available for young people. Visit our Need help?
page for further information.
For more information, see ‘Why it’s dumb to drink when you’re a teenager’3
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