Australian research has found a higher density of outlets selling alcohol in a community – specifically take-away liquor outlets – is linked to a higher risk of alcohol consumption for adolescents between 12–14. In short, the more places selling take-away alcohol, the more likely adolescents 12–14-years will drink.18
Managing the density of alcohol outlets in a community may be an important element in a more holistic strategy to reduce young people’s alcohol consumption. Communities and regulators should be given the ability to have meaningful input and control over the density, and type, of liquor outlets licensed in their local area.
Enforcing purchase laws of 18 years and secondary supply laws (provision of alcohol to those under 18 years) is another important aspect of reducing the availability of alcohol to young people.11
It’s critical that the education provided to young people about alcohol be evidence-based and aligned with best practice, to ensure we have the greatest chance of success.19
Education attempts based in exaggeration of risks and scare tactics have been demonstrated ineffective, and in the worst cases have backfired.20 Successful alcohol education is oriented towards developing young people’s social competence and capacity to cope with stressful situations without relying on alcohol. All Australian schools have access to evidence-based alcohol education, which should be adopted by every school.21
Expecting information to change behaviour in the face of strong social, personal and environmental factors is unrealistic.
The issue is that young people’s decision-making and risk assessment abilities are still developing while their emotional reactivity is heightened.2
Adolescents are more likely to make decisions based in emotion and sometimes a young person may make a decision ‘in the heat of the moment’ even though they may ‘know better’.2
While information might not be enough, it’s still important that adolescents have the facts – especially the fact that fewer of their peers are choosing to drink.