Teenage binge drinking

Monday February 25, 2008
Teenagers drinking alcohol (Getty Iamges)

Research reveals that binge drinking has reached epidemic levels in Australia as alcohol consumption has now become the biggest single social issue for teens facing our country.

Professor Margaret Hamilton from the National Drug and Alcohol Council joins the show to discuss the key findings of the research on teenage binge drinking.

Binge drinking is a term given to the dangerous practice of consuming large quantities of alcoholic beverages in a single session.

The report, commissioned by the Australian National Council on Drugs, has found teenagers have an increasing dependency on alcohol, says Ms Hamilton.

"A key point revealed in the report was that drug abuse resources are not adequately equipped to involve families in the process and that this needs to be addressed," she says.

"I think the most important finding was that families are crucial in terms of support and there are not enough resources dedicated to their involvement in the treatment process," says Ms Hamilton. "It is a horrible truth that Australian families are suffering silently."

Most alcohol and drug treatment services are not focussed on or funded to respond to family members, according to Ms Hamilton. "The fixed amount of funding barely responds to individual, it certainly doesn't pay to involve to the family in the treatment and the therapy that the individual needs."

"It is important to provide support to families who have a young person with substance abuse issues and their needs should be recognised within existing drug and alcohol services as well as being supported by stand along programs," she suggests.

"Government and non-government services should be adequately resourced to deliver intervention programs to family members to help families," she says. "In fact, all states and territories need to make it a priority to look at drug and alcohol treatment services and the ways families are being supported."

Binge drinking facts:

  • 1 in 10 teenagers binge drink
  • 1 in 10 15-year-olds drink at harmful levels
  • 1 in 5 16-year-olds drink at harmful levels
  • 1 in 7 students have used cannabis
  • 1 in 25 students have used amphetamines over 12 months
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