The facts about alcohol and other drugs

Information about alcohol and other drugs can change over time. For example, we now know a lot more about the long-term harmful effects.


The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to understand your young person’s challenges, what they may encounter and the potential harms to their health.

Make sure you gather information from proven sources to support you to have The Other Talk.

To get you started we’ve gathered some key facts and stats as well as collated info on some of the more common drugs your young person may come across.

Young people and alcohol

46% of 12 to 17-year-olds drank alcohol in the past year - according to the Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey

  • Young people are at greater risk of alcohol-related harm than adults.8
  • Drinking alcohol can impact brain development up until the age of 25, resulting in affected attention, memory, and decision-making abilities.10, 11
  • The earlier a young person is introduced to alcohol and the more frequently they drink, can increase the likelihood of them becoming dependant on alcohol later in life.3, 12
  • Delaying drinking alcohol as long as possible can help to reduce harms. The Australian alcohol guidelines recommend delaying the first drink until at least 18 years old.8
  • While young people are less likely to drink alcohol than past generations, when they do, they are likely to drink to intoxication, resulting in injuries, alcohol poisoning and sometimes death.8
  • There is strong and consistent evidence that alcohol causes cancer, increasing the risk for mouth, throat, breast, bowel, liver and pancreatic cancer. 13

Young people and drug use

Use the following sections to find out about the effects of the more common drugs used by Australian secondary school students. You can also visit our Drugs Facts pages for more information.

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