Empowering communities

Controlling the availability of alcohol

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

Hula hooping at a festival

Evidence-based drug education

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

Why information isn’t enough

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.

  1. L. P. Spear, “Effects of adolescent alcohol consumption on the brain and behaviour,” Nature Reviews Neuroscience, vol. 19, pp. 197–214, 2018.
  2. B. J. Casey, R. M. Jones and T. A. Hare, “The Adolescent Brain,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, pp. 111–126, 2008.
  3. C. R. Colder, K. Shyhalla and S. E. Frndak, “Early alcohol use with parental permission: Psychosocial characteristics and drinking in late adolescence,” Addictive Behaviours, vol. 76, pp. 82–87, 2018.
  4. J. McCambridge, J. McAlaney and R. Rowe, “Adult Consequences of Late Adolescent Alcohol Consumption: A Systematic Review of,” PLoS Medicine, vol. 8, no. 2, 2011.
  5. V. White and T. Williams, “Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2014,” Cancer Council Victoria, 2016.
  6. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, “National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016,” AIHW, 2017.
  7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, “Impact of alcohol and illicit drug use on the burden of disease and injury in Australia: Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011,” Australian Government, Canberra, 2018.
  8. AIHW, “Deaths in Australia,” Australian Government, Online, 2018.
  9. Lam, T et al., “Young Australians’ Alcohol Reporting System (YAARS): National Report 2016/17,” National Drug Research Institute, Perth, 2017.
  10. S. M. Ryan , A. F. Jorm and D. I. Lubman, “Parenting factors associated with reduced adolescent alcohol use: a systematic review of longitudinal studies,” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 44, no. 9, pp. 774–783, 2010.
  11. J. W. Toumbourou, B. Rowland, M. Ghayour-Minaie, S. Sherker, G. C. Patton and J. W. Williams, “Student survey trends in reported alcohol use and influencing factors in Australia,” Drug and Alcohol Review, vol. 37, no. S1, pp. 58–66, 2018.
  12. R. K. Hodder, E. Campbell, C. Gilligan, H. Lee, C. Lecathelinais, S. Green, M. MacDonald and J. Wiggers, “Association between Australian adolescent alcohol use and alcohol use risk and protective factors in 2011 and 2014,” Drug and Alcohol Review, vol. 37, no. S1, pp. 22–33, 2017.
  13. K. Smit, C. Voogt, M. Hiemstra, M. Kleinjan, R. Otten and E. Kuntsche, “Development of alcohol expectancies and early alcohol use in children and adolescents: A systematic review,” Clinical Psychology Review, vol. 60, pp. 136–146, 2018.
  14. P. Larm , M. Livingston, J. Svensson, H. Leifman and J. Raninen, “The increased trend of non-drinking in adolescence: The role of parental monitoring and attitudes toward offspring drinking,” Drug and Alcohol Review, vol. 37, no. S1, pp. S34–S41, 2018.
  15. M. I. Jongenelis, R. Johnston and J. Stafford, “Factors Associated with Parents’ Belief in the Appropriateness of Providing Alcohol to their Child,” Substance Use and Misuse, vol. 53, no. 14, 2018.
  16. National Health and Medical Research Council, “Australian guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking alcohol,” NHMRC, Canberra, 2009.
  17. R. S. Johnston, J. Stafford, M. I. Jongenelis, T. Shaw, H. Samsa, E. Costello and G. Kirby, “Evaluation of a public education campaign to support parents to reduce adolescent alcohol use,” Drug and Alcohol Review, vol. 37, no. 5, pp. 588–598, 2018.
  18. B. Rowland, J. W. Toumbourou, L. Satyen, G. Tooley,
    M. Livingston, J. Hall and J. Williams, “Associations between alcohol outlet densities and adolescent alcohol consumption: A study in Australian students,” Addictive Behaviours, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 282-288, 2014.
  19. C. Werch and D. Owen, “Iatrogenic Effects of Alcohol and Drug Prevention Programs,”
    Journal of Studies on Alcohol, pp. 581–590, 2002.
  20. H. Cahill, “Devising classroom drug education programs,” in Drug Education in Schools: Searching for the SIlver Bullet, East Hawthorn, IP Communications, 2006, pp. 147–165.
  21. C. Davis, C. Francis, C. Mason and J. Phillips, “A Best Practice Guide to Policy, Prevention and Planning for Alcohol and Other Drugs in Schools,” Dovetail, Brisbane, 2018.
  22. K. J. Pegg, A. W. O’Donnell, G. Lala and B. L. Barber, “The Role of Online Social Identity in the Relationship Between Alcohol-Related Content on Social Networking Sites and Adolescent Alcohol Use,” Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking, vol. 21, no. 1, 2018.
  23. J. C. Scott, S. T. Slomiak, J. D. Jones, A. F. Rosen, T. M. Moore and R. C. Gur, “Association of Cannabis With Cognitive Functioning in Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” JAMA Psychiatry, vol. 75, no. 6, pp. 585–595, 2018.
  24. L. Cooper, “Motivations for Alcohol Use Among Adolescents: Development and Validation of a Four-Factor Model,” Psychological Assessment, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 117–128, 1994.
  25. N. Comeau, S. H. Stewart and P. Loba, “The relations of trait anxiety, anxiety sensitivity, and sensation seeking to adolescents’ motivations for alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use,” Addictive Behaviors, vol. 26, pp. 803–825, 2001.
  26. M. Pompili, G. Serafini, M. Innamorati, G. Dominici, S. Ferracuti, G. D. Kotzalidis, G. Serra, P. Girardi, L. Janiri, R. Tatarelli, L. Sher and D. Lester, “Suicidal Behaviour and Alcohol Abuse,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 1392–1431, 2010.