You may think that everyone drinks, but in fact, almost one in five Victorians aged 16 and 17 have never drunk alcohol.
In fact, research from 2007 shows that young people often overestimate the drinking behaviour of their friends and peers.
And many young Victorians who do drink don't drink very often, or very much.
There's a lot of research about young people and alcohol - how much they drink, how often they drink and where they get alcohol from. As the evidence below indicates though, many of those that do drink alcohol, drink too much, too often.
It's useful to know this when you're thinking about your own drinking or talking about drinking with your friends.
When do people start drinking?
According to the 2008 Victorian Secondary School Student survey, 56 per cent of Victorian students aged between 12 and 17 describe themselves as non-drinkers. Another big group describe themselves as occasional drinkers (21 per cent), and less than one in five say they are ‘party drinkers' (18 per cent).
On the other hand, though, the 2009 Victorian Youth Alcohol and Drug Survey reveals that around one in four young people have their first drink before their 15th birthday. Young people who start early tend to:
- drink more than those who don't start drinking until they are at least 15
- drink to very risky levels at least once a month (31 per cent, compared with 12 per cent)
- have been unable to remember what happened while they were drinking at least once in the past year (66 per cent, compared with 47 per cent)
- feel that their drinking is having a negative effect on their health (37 per cent, compared with 22 per cent).
How much do young people drink?
Some young people drink very risky amounts of alcohol - but most young people do not regularly drink at hazardous levels.
According to the 2009 Victorian Youth Alcohol and Drug Survey, only 9 per cent of 16-17 year olds would drink 20 or more standard drinks once a month or less. On the other hand, around 13 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds don't drink at all, and another 18 per cent never have more than six standard drinks on one occasion.
Where do young people get and drink alcohol?
The 2009 Victorian Youth Alcohol and Drug Survey indicates that underage Victorians tend to drink alcohol:
- at private parties (58 per cent)
- at friend's houses (53 per cent)
- in their own homes (36 per cent).
Less than 7 per cent of the survey respondents said they usually drank alcohol in licensed premises, and only 4 per cent said they usually drank in public places.
Most young people (61 per cent) said they got their alcohol from friends or acquaintances. Around 44 per cent said their parents bought it for them, and around one in ten said they bought it themselves, or it was bought for them by a brother or sister.