Fast Facts – Alcohol

Did you know?

  • Young people aged 16-24 are the heaviest drinkers in Australian society. In NSW, over 46% of males and 43% of females are drinking at levels that could pose a serious risk to their health if they drink at this level during their lifetime.
  • Over half of this group drink at levels which place them at risk of an alcohol related injury on any single drinking occasion. (NSW Health Statistics, 2011)
  • Young people are particularly vulnerable to acute harms such as violence and injury, sexual assault and brain damage
  • Over 260 young people aged 15-24 die each year as a result of drinking to intoxication. Many people think that these deaths are mainly due to alcohol related road crashes. However, deaths from alcohol poisoning, violent attacks and suicides are often related to binge drinking.
  • 40% of suicides are preceded by acute use of alcohol (Roche, A et al 2008)

Alcohol and your brain

  • Your brain is not fully developed until you are around 25 years of age
  • Drinking alcohol to intoxicating levels during adolescence can cause permanent brain damage
  • Memory, learning, decision making and problem solving and behaviour can be affected

What does this mean for me?

Learning problems – can result in poor exam results and life skills which will reduce your career options and future employment.

Lack of judgement – can lead to greater risk taking and increased likelihood of violence or unwanted sexual encounters including sexual assault, sexually transmitted infections, possible pregnanc.

Personality and mood changes – Regular heavy drinking can cause irrational and aggressive behaviour. Inability to pick up social cues, depression and anxiety.

Bad choices – When you are drunk you make dumb decisions which can change your life forever. Some of these include;

  • drink driving which increases your risk of crashing, resulting in injury or death to you, your passengers and other drivers
  • heavy fines and imprisonment (if someone is injured)
  • loss of licence which can affect employment and social life
  • getting into a car with someone who is drunk or affected by drugs
  • not planning ahead to ensure a safe way home
  • more risk taking due to not being able to recognise or assess dangers
  • blackouts which make you vulnerable to personal injury, sexual assaults, violence and robbery


What can you do to stay safe?

  • tell someone you trust where you are and keep the address and telephone number in your pocket
  • Plan a safe way home before you go out. Organise transport, a designated driver or get someone to pick you up at the end of the night
  • Do not drink to get drunk. Make a plan before you go out and decide how much you will drink. Drink slowly, it takes an hour for your body to process each standard drink
  • Keep track of how much alcohol you are drinking. Count your drinks and Learn how to calculate standard drinks READ MORE…
  • Decide how much you are going to spend and leave your cards at home
  • Eat before and while drinking and avoid salty foods. A small amount of food before you drink will slow down the absorption of alcohol and help keep you safe
  • Drink water before and between drinking alcohol, but do not give excessive amounts of water to someone who is drunk
  • Don’t allow others to top up your glass
  • Avoid rounds or shouts
  • Limit time spent with heavy drinking friends and don’t feel pressured into drinking more just to fit in
  • Avoid drinking shots or spirits These high alcohol content drinks are the main cause of alcohol related harm including brain and liver damage


Australian Alcohol Guidelines Recommend

  • young people under 18 should not drink alcohol
  • For men and women 18 years  + Drinking no more than 2 standard drinks a day reduces your risk of alcohol –related disease or injury. Your risk increases if you drink 3 or more per day
  • It is illegal to serve alcohol to anyone who is under 18 years of age. This includes private parties as well as in licensed premises



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    RRISK is a health promotion program that addresses risk-taking behaviour amongst year 11 students in the North Coast of NSW.