The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is today calling for a partnership between Government, industry, health professionals and the community to end the binge drinking culture that is damaging the health of young Australians.
A report by the Australian National Council on Drugs has revealed that one in ten high school students had been binge drinking in the past week.
AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said urgent action was needed to end the binge drinking culture and change young Australians’ attitudes towards alcohol.
“Our teenagers and young people are putting themselves at serious risk by engaging in bouts of binge drinking and harmful alcohol abuse,” Dr Capolingua said.
“It is clear that messages about responsible drinking aren’t getting through to them.
“We need to examine how we communicate with young people about alcohol abuse on all levels – from Federal Government campaigns to talking with a doctor or family members.”
Dr Capolingua said the new national guidelines for ‘low risk’ drinking being developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) needed to include information on the risks of consuming high levels of alcohol in a single drinking session.
“It’s easy for kids to think that because they don’t drink very often that one big night isn’t going to do them any harm, but in fact they are putting themselves at risk of injury or death.
“According to the NHMRC, one Australian teenager dies and 60 are hospitalised each week from alcohol-related causes.”
Dr Capolingua said the alcohol industry is equally responsible.
“Alcohol manufacturers need to include clearly visible and easy to understand information about responsible drinking levels on all product labels.
“Figures from the NHMRC show the number of school students consuming pre-mixed spirits has doubled since 2001.
“These are strong alcoholic drinks and young people need to be aware of the risks of consuming a lot of these in one night or one drinking session.
“Binge drinking affects the whole community, so the whole community needs to be involved in putting an end to the binge drinking culture that is seriously harming our young people,” Dr Capolingua said.
From the Australian Medical Association