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Alcohol-related injuries among young people in WA

Alcohol is the highest risk factor for injury among Australia’s youth. The Australian Alcohol Guidelines recommend that children and people under 18 should not drink alcohol to reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health. Research indicates the earlier a young person starts drinking, and the more frequently they drink, the more likely they are to experience alcohol-related harms such as accidents or injuries or develop alcohol dependence later in life.

Recent data from the 2022/2023 Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey report found:

  • 65% of Australian high school students (12 – 17-year-olds) reported having ever consumed alcohol.
  • 81% of students who had ever consumed an alcoholic drink had engaged in risky drinking in their lifetime, and nearly one-third (30%) engaged in risky drinking in the last two weeks.
  • Over half (54%) of all current drinkers reported experiencing at least one negative outcome after drinking alcohol in the past year.
  • Nearly half (47%) of all current drinkers obtained their last alcoholic drink from their parent/s.

Younger people are overrepresented in harm resulting from alcohol-related injury, which may be attributable to their developing bodies being more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol, a developing brain and some younger people drinking large quantities of alcohol within a single occasion on a regular occurrence.  Peer pressure and risk-taking behaviour can lead to the misuse of alcohol and other drugs, which can increase the risk of poisoning, especially among young people. Accidental poisoning is caused by exposure to a substance in an amount that harms the body and is the 9th most common reason for injury hospitalisation.

Six ambulances are called to treat intoxicated West Australians aged 18 and younger every week, with 12% of 12–17-year-olds being victims of an alcohol-related incident in 2019, including verbal abuse, physical abuse, or being put in fear by someone under the influence of alcohol. Local Governments play a direct role in reducing the risk of injury occurring within their community by ensuring public areas are free from potential injury risks and have the ability to increase awareness of strategies to prevent injury among youth.

The need to raise awareness of alcohol-related injury in WA has never been more important, and communities want to understand how they can help prevent the early uptake of alcohol in young people. Access the Know Injury Youth Toolkit for information on awareness-raising activities and how to involve the community. Use the eDirectory to connect with organisations and community groups you can partner with to promote and implement injury prevention or explore reliable and accurate alcohol-related injury prevention evidence in one location through the Evidence Bank.

Injury Matters acknowledges and respects the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the custodians of the land on which we work, live and build our lives, families, and communities. We pay our respects to the First Nations People of this country, their cultures and Elders past, present and emerging.

Injury Matters strives to be culturally sensitive as we represent the Western Australian community in our imagery. Please be advised that our website or resources may contain images, videos, or voices of people who have since passed away.

If any material causes concern, please contact us on (08) 6166 7688.

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