Tobacco smoking and illicit drug use is declining among young people, however, the consumption of alcohol at risky levels remains high, according to the latest report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The data comes from the AIHW’s ‘Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia’ study, which examines the health burden from the use of legal and illegal drugs in Australia.
Millennial drug experimentation has fallen rapidly, with rates among 18–24 year-olds dropping from 37.1% in 2001 to 28.2% in 2016.
Similarly, smoking is plunging among young people, with the daily smoking rate halving between 2001 and 2016 for both young men (24.5% to 12.3%) and young women (23.5% to 10.8%).
Young people are still engaging in risky drinking, but at lower rates. The rate fell from 13.5% of young men engaging in a single occasion of risky drinking in 2013 to 9.1% in 2016, with the rate among young women falling from 11.3% to 6.8% over the same period.
Key findings from the AIHW’s ‘Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia’ study
Life Education NSW CEO Kellie Sloane said the younger generation is to be congratulated for leading the way in these encouraging trends.
“It is important to recognise that when it comes to health and wellbeing our young people are doing a good job and - when given the necessary support to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills - will make safe and healthy choices,” Ms Sloane said.
However, there is still work to be done in educating young people about the associated harms of alcohol consumption, particularly when it comes to risky drinking, Ms Sloane said.
In 2016, 15.3% of young adults aged 18–24 consumed more than 11 standard drinks on one occasion.