Australia: Significant Decline In Teen Substance Use
A new study finds a significant decline in teen substance use, including alcohol, tobacco and cannabis.
The study was conducted by Deakin University and published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Review. It surveyed more than 41,000 teenagers between 1999 and 2015, and found that the number of adolescents who had consumed alcohol has dropped from close to 70% to 45%. When the survey began, Australia ranked among the highest youth alcohol consumers globally.
Better understanding of alcohol harm is shaping parental attitudes
But teens buying alcohol has declined from 12% nearly two decades ago to just 1% today, the study found. At the same time, parents supplying alcohol to kids had dropped from a peak of 22% in 2007 to 12% in 2015.
The reductions in teen substance use were associated with similar reductions in parent favourable attitudes and availability of substances, according to the study. The researchers contend that it is plausible that a reduced tendency for parents and other adults to supply adolescent alcohol are implicated in the reductions in adolescent alcohol use observed across Australia.
Parents’ attitudes have changed towards alcohol use at home and in adolescents, and this has been a really important trigger for the change we have observed,” lead researcher Toumbourou told AFP.
Also, other adults are far less likely to provide a young person with any alcohol, in the context of other homes or with a licensed alcohol retailer.”
Better alcohol alcohol combined with education programs drive the change
Reachers said a mix of tighter laws and education programs targeted at schools and parents had contributed to this very positive development.
Young people very much understand that the brain is still developing through the adolescent period into the mid-20s,” Toumbourou said.
Parents increasingly recognising the dangers to health is ‘a game-changer’. There was once a time where parents thought if they (teenagers) don’t get injured it won’t do them any harm. But now they know that the actual alcohol itself is harming their development, which is changing the perception of risk of alcohol.”