Is alcohol to blame for youth violence?

Many Australians argue that excessive alcohol consumption is playing a key role in our growing culture of youth violence.

Research shows that alcohol is linked to aggressive behaviour in all shapes and forms, from domestic violence to the growing incidence of notorious ‘king-hit’ attacks. Each year, over 3500 Australians are treated for brain injuries following brutal assaults.

Some doctors are pointing the finger at the trend for mixing alcoholic spirits with caffeinated energy drinks. They say the problem is that energy drinks have a stimulant effect, which can cause hyperactivity, anxiety and aggression. Drinking alcohol excessively can result in a lowering of inhibitions. When the two are combined, the result is potentially lethal: an intoxicated individual experiencing the worst of both worlds. Mixing energy drinks and alcohol results in an “energetic intoxication”, which can all too easily end in disaster.

Doctors and surgeons have spoken out about the carnage they are left to clean up every Monday, following the alcohol-induced mayhem of the weekend. Heartbroken parents have shared their pain with the nation, in the hopes of saving even just one family from experiencing their heartache.

So where do we go from here? Promoting responsible drinking is certainly one answer, but it is easier said than done. Some of the responsibility lies with parents, who need to educate their children from a very young age about the potential deadly consequences of drinking irresponsibly. Mums and dads should also remember that they are an important role model and that kids tend to mimic their parents’ actions.

Schools and youth groups could also help by spending more time educating young people on the potential dangers of alcohol. It’s clear that more needs to be done to promote a culture of responsible drinking.

But should parents and schools alone be responsible? There is an on-going debate about how much blame lies with the establishments that sell these cocktails of energy drinks and spirits, as well as the manufacturers of these beverages. Politicians are talking about introducing legislation that would limit opening hours and establish strict lockout times. But will this simply push drinking and violence out onto the streets?

One thing’s for sure: excessive alcohol consumption contributes to youth violence statistics – and something needs to change.