Long-term alcohol harm an issue for young women

Posted on: Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Young women are at greater risk of long-term harm than men when it comes to their excessive drinking habits, a new report from Turning Point has found.

The most recent Drug Statistics Handbook reports that 21 per cent of women aged 16 to 24 consume alcohol at levels that placed them at risk of long-term harm, compared to just nine per cent of young men.

 Turning Point Clinical Director Dr Matthew Frei said he was concerned about the number of young women with alcohol issues.

“While we usually consider long-term alcohol consumption problems as a condition of men, women remain a significant contributor to Australia’s alcohol-related harms,” Dr Frei said.

“It is important we don’t stereotype when it comes to alcohol. Excessive consumption affects people from all demographics; from harms to the body through to increased likelihood of injuries as a result of assaults or accidents.”

Analysis of the 2010 data also found that women matched men in other areas, with 54 per cent of young females consuming alcohol at levels that also placed them at risk of short-term harm, compared to 55 per cent of men. 

With the new university year about to begin and growing community concern over alcohol-fuelled violence, Dr Frei reinforced the importance of responsible drinking.

“While there appears to be a cultural acceptance of excessive alcohol consumption in Australia, it is important young people look after themselves and their mates,” he said. “Furthermore, they should not feel pressured into going over the top with their drinking.”

The Drug Statistics Handbook also found that young men were more likely to report drinking regular strength beer. However, young women were more likely to consume bottled spirits and liqueurs, and pre-mixed spirits in bottles.

Dr Frei said parents could play a key role by educating their children about the risks associated with heavy drinking and exercising responsible drinking habits themselves.