Binge drinking is one of the main causes of violence, which makes it all the more worrying that studies are now showing Australian youths are abusing alcohol from an increasingly younger age.
The Queensland Early Intervention Pilot Project (QEIPP) has revealed that it’s no longer just teenagers who are binge drinking and highlights the case of a eight year old who was found drinking wine, alone, at 2:00am.
The QEIPP was established in 2010 to tackle the growing problem of alcohol abuse in young people.
This may be an extreme example of underage drinking in Australia, but it highlights the fact that the problem is far worse than many people suspect or want to believe.
Underage binge drinking is particularly destructive, as countless studies have shown that alcohol has a detrimental effect on the developing brain. Alcohol is also an addictive drug, with a proven link between alcohol abuse and crime.
Around 68% of young binge drinkers are male. Perhaps this is because drinking is looked upon as “macho” and getting drunk is seen as a rite of passage into manhood. In fact, peer pressure seems to be a huge factor in underage drinking, but unscrupulous drinks companies marketing their products to young people could also be to blame. Parents have reported that they feel isolated and powerless to combat these influences, and even though some of these young people are really worried about their drinking, they often find it difficult to turn their lives around.
It’s possible to solve the problem of underage drinking when people have the right kind of support, and the QEIPP works with young people and their families to address the underlying issues, helping them decide how to move forward. It helps reassure parents and arms them with actionable knowledge.
The project also helps young people to take personal responsibility for their drinking, and to change their attitudes and behaviours. The program runs free alcohol awareness courses and counselling with qualified professionals. Queensland Police are beginning to see positive results: 87% of youths working with the QEIPP don’t come into contact with the police again for subsequent alcohol-related offences.
Teenage binge drinking is a growing problem in Australian culture – and it’s time that we do something about it!