Young adults in denial about alcohol abuse


A high proportion of 25 year olds who experience problems with alcohol don’t think that they need help according to new research from the University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand.

The study found that around one third of the 1003 young adults surveyed reported problems with alcohol over the previous four years, i.e. from age 21 to 24. However of these 351 young adults only 26 (7%), had treatment for alcohol problems. The other 93% did not seek help for their drinking problems.

Of the 7% who did seek help, nearly all felt they needed treatment, and that view was supported by family and friends. Dr Wells says this indicates the important role of family and friends in assisting young people to recognise that they need help, and more importantly, to take action.

The main reasons given in the survey for not seeking help or advice were:

  • that they thought they did not need help (96%), or
  • that their alcohol problem would just get better by itself (29%), or
  • that they did not think to go for help (25%).

“One of the worrying results of this study is that the more severe the diagnosis in terms of drinking the more likely young adults are to think that their problems will get better by themselves and not seek help,” says Dr Wells.

“Males are twice as likely as females to take this head-in-the sand attitude.”

Most of those with alcohol problems who thought that they could handle it themselves did not do so. Only 25% became problem-free in their final year. Hardly any of the 351 with problems consistently drank within the guidelines promoted by ALAC and other drug and alcohol services.

Dr Wells says this study confirms that a high proportion of young New Zealanders have ongoing problems with alcohol consumption and abuse, and that most do not do anything to deal with it. They are either unmotivated or unable to change their drinking patterns.

Full story at; University of Otago, New Zealand

The study results were published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry

Brief-TSF can assist people see their denial about alcohol.


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