For most of us who grew up in Australia, our late teens and early 20s were a blurry mix of raucous house parties and late nights on the town. This probably brings up memories of the awkward dance floor “pash and dash” or stumbling home in the early morning muttering about people exercising.

It was the best of times. It was the time of a lot drinking. Maybe now, the question is less “where should we go?” and more “should we go?”

Fortunately it new research says the youth of today are taking a different approach.

According to a new study, some drinking culture is changing among younger folk. 


Research led by Doctor Michael Livingston from the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research showed young Australians were drinking about 50 per cent less alcohol than people, of the same age, were 10 years ago.

The drinking habits of more than 124,440 Australians aged 14 to 79 were tracked over 18 years and analysed using data from population surveys.

“If we talk about … 14 to 17 year olds, in 2001 about two-thirds of those reported drinking at all. That’s down to 40 per cent,” Dr Livingston said in an interview with the ABC.

“It’s something like, on average, about half as much alcohol consumed by teenagers as there was 10 years ago.”

The internet could be helping to curb binge drinking

It’s not clear yet why young people are drinking less but Dr Livingston has an inkling social media has something to do with it.

“We don’t have good evidence — this is me just spouting off — but it seems that it fits the data … possibly the internet is part of that story,” he said.

“My favourite theory … is that it is something to do with the way interaction has changed.
“This is a cohort of young people who have grown up embedded in online interactions … the way they’re meeting each other, the way they interact with each other is quite different to previous generations.
“Alcohol, especially in young people, is very much about socialising.”

Responsible drinking trending globally

It’s not just young Australians who are drinking less booze, which is another reason it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why it’s happening.  “We’re seeing these results in other countries like Sweden, like the UK — countries with different patterns and cultures,” Dr Livingston said. “There’s less drug use, there’s less drinking, there’s less smoking. It’s a broad shift towards more responsible, less risky behaviour.”

If you’d like some handy tips on how to make drinking this weekend a little healthier, check out our House Call Doctor post from March.