Three quarters of 15 to 17 year olds don’t like being drunk

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Nearly three quarters (74%) of 15 to 17 year olds don’t like being drunk and over two thirds (68%) feel ashamed of themselves when they drink too much alcohol according to new research by alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware.

The study of 600 15 to 17 year olds also found that a third (36%) of 15 to 17 year olds who have drunk alcohol in the last week did so because of peer pressure. But while young people may feel they need to drink alcohol to fit in with their friends, the majority (61%) of their peers only occasionally or rarely drink.  

Family are the main suppliers of alcohol for 15 to 17 year olds, with nearly two thirds (61%) of those who had drunk at home in the last week saying they had been given alcohol by their family and two fifths (43%) admitting their family had provided them with alcohol for house parties and birthday parties in the last week.  More than one in 10 (13%) 15 to 17 year olds say they drink at home two to three times a week and almost a fifth (17%) regularly drink in someone else’s home. 

Recent US and Australian research findings show supervised alcohol use in the home leads to higher consumption and greater levels of alcohol-related harm outside the home. Parents play a pivotal role in shaping young people’s attitudes and behaviour towards alcohol.  Drinkaware research shows that less than one in 10 (8%) 15 to 17 year olds would go to a friend for advice about the effects of drinking whereas almost half (48%) would go to their parents – the top choice. 

Other findings from the research show:

  • 88% of 15 to 17 year olds have drunk alcohol and the age of first drink falls mostly between 13 and 15 years.
  • 15 to 17 year olds have, on average, drunk 4-5 different types of alcohol, with alcopops, vodka and beer the most common. 
  • Almost all (92%) of 15 to 17 year olds don’t like being responsible for other people when they’re drunk.
  •  Almost all (95%) of 15 to 17 year olds choose alcoholic drinks they like the taste of.

Chris Sorek, Chief Executive of Drinkaware, said: “Young people feel under pressure to drink alcohol because they think their peers are drinking more than they are, but in fact this isn’t the case.  Children need to know not all young people drink or like to get drunk. 

“The study also shows that parents are best placed to give their children the facts about alcohol, and children welcome this advice.  And, while we know parents worry about their children’s vulnerability, they often don’t realise that giving their child alcohol at home could increase their risk of immediate and long term health harms.  Drinking in the adolescent years leaves young people vulnerable – emotionally, physically and sexually – and can have an impact on their drinking habits later in life. 

“By reinforcing the influence parents have and supporting them with the facts and tools to talk to their children about alcohol earlier we can start to change the norm of underage drinking.   Reducing the number of under-18s drinking can help stem the tide of young adult binge drinkers and foster a new culture of knowledge and moderate alcohol consumption. The end result will benefit society as a whole.”

School Leadership Today
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