By Sandra Di Francesco


Young people often feel pressured to drink alcohol to excess according to Emma Saleeba of VicHealth.


“Statistics show that 42 per cent of 18- 29 year olds (both male & female) surveyed feel pressured to drink”, Saleeba said.


VicHealth created ‘The No Excuse Campaign’ back in 2013 and 2014, targeted at people aged 16- 29. Its aim was to show that ‘no excuse’ was needed if they wanted to slow down or stop drinking.


Has ‘No Excuse’ been successful in its message to young people?


“The campaign received a lot of recognition on social media. Online video views were over 800, 000 and nearly 200, 000 interacted on social media”, Saleeba said.


A major factor to emerge from research commissioned by VicHealth is that young people tend to overestimate what their peers are drinking. Even though there is risky drinking amongst young people, the majority are still quite responsible.


It appears that most are moderate drinkers and most don’t intend to get drunk when out. Most young people don’t drink weekly or go out to drink but they think everyone around them is.


Growing up in Benalla (Country Town in Victoria) with 9000 people there wasn’t a hell of a lot to do on weekends. As we grew up at around 16 we discovered alcohol.”


“There is a perception that everyone else my age is drinking for example once a week, is getting drunk once a week. The consumption statistics show this is not right, it’s an overestimate. If they knew the truth they would be more empowered to drink more moderately”, Saleeba said.


Amy Gilderdale, 21, is a non-drinker and said she personally feels no pressure to drink. She does what she wants and she has both drinking and non-drinking friends.


However she said she feels that pressure to drink comes from being part of a group. She said that people join groups and then feel isolated if they don’t engage in the group activity.


Thomas Watson, 23 and also a non- drinker, said,  “You feel like an outsider when everyone else in a group is drinking and you’re not.” Often, there are no other alternatives as in a party situation. He added the pressure is very different for different people.


Riley Brightmore, 20, said that for him drinking is more of a social thing. “Growing up in Benalla (Country Town in Victoria)  with 9000 people there wasn’t a hell of a lot to do on weekends. As we grew up at around 16 we discovered alcohol.”


Kristen Dunn, 23, is a drinker and said that pressure to drink does exist as it is part of our culture. She said alcohol is everywhere in our society- at sports games, parties, events, festivals etc and people use it as a ‘social lubricant’. “At the end of the day it all comes back to moderation”, she added.


Recent research reveals that the same number of young males and females drink but that young men tend to drink more regularly and excessively than females. In terms of consumption it is reasonably similar, with Saleeba commenting that young females are catching up.


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