Generation of Aussie Teens Lost to Binge Drinking

Every now and then you come across an individual that is truly passionate and dedicated to a worthwhile cause.

One such individual, for me at least anyway, is Paul Dillon, the director of the private consultancy Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia.

For what must be some ten years or more, Paul Dillon has been at the forefront of educating young Australians about the effects of various drugs and alcohol abuse. He has done so without being sanctimonious or condescending – unlike the approach taken by so many other public figures.

Dillon has always avoided making any sensationalist claims about drug and alcohol use, and as such has gained a reputation as a credible source of the extent of drug and alcohol use in society, largely based on research and in examining the behavioural characteristics of drug users and their drug use patterns over time.

During the past ten years or so, I have followed much of Dillon’s commentary on the ebb and flow of various drug use consumption, from speed, cocaine and heroin, to ecstasy and the emergence of crystal methamphetamine.

While these drugs typically make good news headlines, the one drug which is often overlooked is alcohol use and abuse, and it’s increasingly prevalent nature in Australian society and culture.

In a report published in the SMH, I was disturbed to read that Dillon concludes that a generation of Australian teenagers has been lost to binge drinking and that the Federal Government’s anti-drinking campaign will have no effect in reaching this generation of young people.

Dillon says “$53 million National Binge Drinking Strategy was having little effect on a generation of young drinkers habitually misusing alcohol. Emergency wards remain busy. Alcohol sales have held steady.”

“I really don’t think we’re going to see tremendous changes among young teens up to mid-20s. That group have already made their decisions,” Mr Dillon said.

“They’re sort of like a lost generation, because of the culture they’ve been brought up in. Their views around alcohol have been pretty well established.”

“In the short term we’re not going to see significant changes in the number of people drunk. What we’re looking for, what the Government is looking for, is changes in attitude,” Mr Dillon said.

“What the Government is trying to do is change the culture … I don’t think they’re expecting to see immediate effects.”

The SMH report continues…

The acting Minister for Health and Ageing, Justine Elliot, refused to comment on whether the Government would concede a generation to unchangeable drinking habits. A spokesman said the campaign was focused on “shocking” young people but would not say whether this was a long or short-term goal.

But the head of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent’s Hospital, Alex Wodak, said awareness campaigns were not effective in reducing drinking.

He said government funding was negligible compared to what the liquor industry spent promoting alcohol.

“You would have to be a wild optimist to expect anything from the campaign … It’s a political strategy rather than a strategy based on trying to improve outcomes,” Dr Wodak said.

“There’s no shortage of work [in emergency wards] on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.”

The Australian Hotels Association said there had been no change in the units of alcohol sold in the past year. Since the increased tax on ready-to-drink spirits, people had had simply shifted to other drinks.

“We don’t believe there’s been a demonstrable drop in the number of standard drinks drunk. There has been a shift in what is drunk,” the association’s national chief executive, Bill Healey, said.

Mr Dillon said the Government had made a positive stand against alcohol early last year, but that had declined after opposition from liquor interests.

“The Government has to be very careful they don’t go too hard too quick, because it’s such a part of our culture,” he said. “This could be an election loser.”

 

I believe that alcohol abuse in Australia is rife, under-reported and basically considered part of Australia’s larrikin culture. With an emerging generation of young Australians at risk from the perils of alcohol addiction and the dire health consequences that follow, are we simply going to accept this as part of the “Australian make-up” and allow the profit-motivated interests of the alcohol industry to gain priority over the health and wellbeing of our society?

 

Reb.

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38 Responses

  1. reb

    I read the article too – but is it really saying that the current generation is the first to be lost, or that the current generation is just as lost as the previous generations?

  2. So the young ones have changed drinks since the tax hike and consumption has not been reduced…who would have guessed?

    I don’t see any evidence that alcohol consumption has increased since I was a teenrager and if the government is so against it then I dare them to ban it or get out the peoples lives!

    It worked a treat on drugs which is comparably priced to alcohol now thanks to the tax increases.

    A whole generation lost…what piffle!

  3. I believe that alcohol abuse in Australia is rife, under-reported and basically considered part of Australia’s larrikin culture…

    Yes but…it’s only Aboriginal Australians who have a problem with alcohol abuse (sarcasm alert).

    Alcohol…so much safer than drugs and legal too, accepted by almost all of the population. Wonder what the cost to the community is.

  4. Alcohol is our drug of choice. We enjoy it, governments earn revenuefrom it, and corporations profit from it.

    There are harmful effects, but the risks have been deemed acceptable when weighed against the benefits.

  5. Australians have a passion to drink until they are drunk.
    We like to see the bottom of the glass.
    Paul Dillon is not one of those. He is not one of us. He is more intelligent to be one of us.

    Paul has a job for life as the director of the private consultancy Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia in educating drinkers not to abuse the cortex of out brain by drinking too much.

  6. Tony you might know the answer. I found the cost to the community of the alcohol drug

    National Alcohol Strategy
    A Plan for Action 2001 to 2003-04

    The financial burden of alcohol misuse to the
    community has been estimated to be $4.5 billion per annum, including lower productivity due to lost work days, road accident costs, and legal and court costs, as well as health care costs. It is estimated that 84 per
    cent of these costs ($3.8 billion) are potentially
    preventable and amenable to public policy initiatives (Collins & Lapsley 1996).

    What I don’t know is – does that cost outweigh the perceived benefits, govt. revenue and corporate profits?

    There are harmful effects, but the risks have been deemed acceptable when weighed against the benefits.

    Deemed by whom to be acceptable? Why then don’t they legalise marijuana, if they accept alcohol and cigarettes?

  7. You must be talking about my Gen, the boomers. Didn’t really notice until the 1980s that we were immersed in a culture of drunks for 20 years. Our society is hypocritical about so-called substance abuse. You can get legless so long as it’s not the night before the game.

  8. Deemed by whom to be acceptable?

    Deemed acceptable by the community and its elected representatives. What hope would you give a federal candidate standing on a platform of alcohol prohibition?

    Why then don’t they legalise marijuana, if they accept alcohol and cigarettes?

    Marijuana, while popular, is not our preferred drug. Alcohol is.

  9. I was at Dave the Tiler’s place for lunch on Christmas Day.

    I was chatting to a 12 year old girl who has just moved to a new school (her family recently moved here from VIC)

    She was telling me that girls as young as 13 are turning up to school drunk, or drinking and getting stoned at lunch time.

    She also mentioned that dealing marijuana was rife and everyone knew who they could “score from”.

    She seemed very mature and articulate for her age, I could sense her own feelings of concern and despair for these kids (having come from a “better” school in Victoria.

    Things have sure changed since I was a 12 or 13 year old..

  10. I was at boarding school at 13, and managed to get drunk regularly – undetected! (Except for that one time when my drinking partner vomited cheap port all over his desk, and we barely escaped being expelled.)

  11. Hmm …. “boarding school?” “frequently drunk?” 13…?

    Why do I get the feeling there’s more to this story than your letting on ToSY?

  12. Scaper @2

    “A whole generation lost…what piffle!”

    Usually I would agree with you in terms of such a blithe statement, you know “the whole generation lost” thing.

    But Paul Dillon is not prone to making “sensalionaist” remarks like this or to pander to any government policy.

    He says it like it is.

    Which is why this recent accouncement concerns me.

    20 Years ago you could get pissed on beer, a couple of varieties of wine, spirits etc.

    Today, there is a huge range of alcoholic drinks that are deliberately aimed at the younger demographic. They’re sweet (in taste), you can hardly taste the alcohol and they’re packaged to appeal to the young.

    Sure, people that want to get pissed, always have and always will do.

    However when the alcohol industry deliberately targets the young, is it acceptable to just say “it’s fine” because we all got pissed at that age too?

  13. LOL reb @ 10

    No, not that kind of ‘boarding school’ – otherwise we wouldn’t have feared being expelled. And, I said we got drunk regularly, not frequently. (I wouldn’t want people to think I was some kind of juvenile delinquent alcoholic or anything – it was just our way of letting off some steam.) 😉

  14. “I believe that alcohol abuse in Australia is rife, under-reported and basically considered part of Australia’s larrikin culture”

    I think that “socially acceptable” is the key here.

    “I was at boarding school at 13, and managed to get drunk regularly – “ToSY

    That makes 2 of us. We were only allowed $5 p.w. pocket money & 2 hrs on a Friday night after school to get out of the compound (in full school uniform including blazer mind you, this fact alone brought beatings from the public school scrags to the unfortunate among us) & yet still we were able to “make it happen”…thanks to $2.50 bottles of spu(spew)mante.

    “Our society is hypocritical about so-called substance abuse.”KR

    Succint.

  15. Best-on-ground performance Toiletboss. Obviously just home from work, you have read, understood, and made relevant comments on five different threads – one of which exceeds 200 comments – with only 54 minutes between your first comment and this one.

    Your shout.

  16. I am living proof that a person can still make something of their life after ruining the first half of it by being constantly drunk.

    The only difference being that in the first half of life I abused alcohol. Now I appreciate it.

  17. ” Obviously just home from work, you have read, understood, and made relevant comments on five different threads “ToSY

    Yep, kinda.

    Finished at 3:00, now have until Monday, Afternoon shift, off. I’m not so sure about the “understanding” or “relevance” of my comments but I found the reading stimulating.
    In the same timeframe I’ve drank 2 Heinekens & 2 WT’s & mucked around with my daughter, had a shower & been to the video shop. Starting to think about BBQ tea.

    PS, don’t tell anyone about the beer & spirits, given the serious nature of this thread…which I agree with & see the paucity of the totality of my own wasted years of “binge drinking”.

    In line with the thread commanding attributions, I’d like to add…

    like the Butthole Surfers said…”it’s better to regret something you did, than something that you didn’t do”…

  18. HD/TB

    Yeah, whatever. A man’s not a camel. Any danger?

  19. We must also face the fact that alcohol consumption was always lower under Howard.

  20. “The only difference being that in the first half of life I abused alcohol. Now I appreciate it.”miglo

    More sage words, surprisingly from a devotee of the Port scum.

    Great wisdom though Miglo, I’m trying to learn the same lesson. Although I’ve been pretty good since I’ve had a kid. I reckon my parents were some of the only ones in the district who didn’t spend their lives in the pub, never have, & I appreciate the gravity of that these days…especially in light of the alcoloving sociodelirium that we live in.

    “Everything (almost, not many limits) in moderation” is a pretty f@ckin’ good rule to live by, as is “there is a time & a place” & also “see you in hell”.

  21. Tingleboss, blog as much as you want. I for one always enjoy reading your comments.

  22. “Yeah, whatever. A man’s not a camel”ToSY

    You are a conservative after my own heart, LOL.
    I’ve earned it today, the last 6 have been laborious.

    I also appreciate your taste in movies & literature, based on other threads.

    “Any danger?”…WTF? me no understand.

  23. Sorry, it must be the company I keep. Any danger of you buying a drink?

  24. Were I not far from Sth Yarra I’d be gratified. I imagine we’d have some interestingly degenerative conversations.
    Alas I’m just west of the Mexican border.

    I missed NYE, had to work early morning NYD, so tonight is my mental recompense.

    BTW, one of the movies I hired was Donnie Darko based upon recommendations I’ve read here; any comment?

    Sorry to stray off topic. I should move to the open thread.

  25. Miglo:

    “The only difference being that in the first half of life I abused alcohol. Now I appreciate it.”

    Same here for the first half. But now need to keep it under control.

    Either that or I just stop going to the doctor for health check ups.

    Either way, you’re damned if you do, or damned if you don’t.

    I’ve just cracked the cork on a second bottle of Coonawarra Shiraz 95, after a rather nice dinner at the local.

    “no one gets out of here alive”

  26. Toilet Master @ 24.

    I’ve “heard” that Donnie Darko is really cool, but I fell asleep half way through, not from boredom, just excessive alchol consumption.

    Am about to do same as we are now about to watch a pack of w@nkers, sorry I mean high profile Hollywood actors in Oceans Thirteen.

  27. Coonawarra Shiraz 95

    Would you kindly let me know what it is and what it’s like? I’ve just looked up Penfolds Rewards of Patience and their 1995 Coonawarra Shiraz (Bin 28) is a ‘drink now’.

  28. Sorry. Bin 128.

  29. Tony,

    anything from Penfolds is “drink now” or for any wineyard for that matter.

    But that’s just me. I’ve never been one to establish and maintain a wine cellar.

    I just go by the price. I refuse to drink anything under $25 (for the first bottle), $20 for the second, and $15 for the third (if we make it that far).

    Trust me. That’s all you need to know about wine. Aside from the fact that never drink ANYTHING from Chile, California or France (unless its Mouton Rothschild – which you’ll probably have to trade in your car for).

    Aussie reds, and NZ whites are the best in the world. No argument.

  30. Aussie reds, and NZ whites are the best in the world. No argument.

    I’ll have to take your word for that.

    All I can say with certainty is: My favourite wine type is Shiraz, and the ones I enjoyed most were aged to some extent.

    Champagne is another pick, particularly French, like Veuve Clicquot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were Australian examples just as good.

    White wine is not a regular drink for me, but when I do imbibe, dry is the key.

    Spirit wise, Scotch is my poison.

  31. “Am about to do same as we are now about to watch a pack of w@nkers, sorry I mean high profile Hollywood actors in Oceans Thirteen.”

    I wouldn’t watch that in a gazillion yrs, hype & the cult of personality makes me wary.

    I’ve got Darko & Letters from Iwo Jima…& No Country for Old Men…& Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, LOL.
    I don’t watch a lot of movies but have a day or so.

  32. Letters from Iwo Jima is an absolute classic. However, it endevours to make the viewer feel somewhat affiliated with the Japanese soldiers. It shows some of them as warm and fuzzy people-loving souls.

    I know people who fought against them. Warm, fuzzy, people-loving souls they weren’t.

    No one gets out of here alive.

  33. “hype & the cult of personality makes me wary”. TheBoss @ 31.

    Chad?

  34. Miglo@33

    Bwahahahahaa…now that you mention it.

  35. Interesting how a post originally highlighting the increasing prevalence of alcohol in society and the dangers thereof now has us all talking about our favourite alchololic beverage of choice.

  36. Sorry Reb. I’m at fault there. I meant to condemn alcohol before discussing my favourite drinks. :S

  37. ToSY, same here, I was in the middle of cursing that Coonawarra Shiraz last night while carefully popping the cork on another bottle.

  38. On a serious note before I boast about wehat I’m going to drag out of my cellar to drink while preparing dinner:

    Miglo:
    The only difference being that in the first half of life I abused alcohol. Now I appreciate it.

    I think theres a lot to that Moglo and we are yet to see whether the Gen Ys also follow this path; it’s easy tp condemn them now to a life time of alcoholism but as so many of us from Gen X and above have pointed out, we weren’t so different at that age.

    Another thing to take into consideration is the effect that kids have on curbing alcohol consumption. While I can’t talk from my own experience, my observations of my friends is at least anecdotal evidence that you drink less and get plastered less once you have kids. Seeing as people are generally having kids at a later age nowadays than the Boomers etc, is it any wonder that our higher rates of drinking continue for longer?

    And now, where is that ’95 Rosemount Balmoral Syrah …

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