Young Australians more likely to socialise without alcohol according to new DrinkWise data

Young people are choosing to cut back on alcohol with more than three-quarters opting to socialise in ways that avoid boozing according to new research.

More Australians than ever are choosing to cut back on alcohol or adopt sobriety, however, some of the most surprising results have come from Australians aged 18-24, according to new research from DrinkWise.

The data found that 76 per cent of young Australians like to socialise in ways that do not involve drinking alcohol.

Two-thirds admit that they do not like to ruin the following day with a hangover from drinking the night before.

The change is one that’s “flown under the radar” according to DrinkWise chief executive Simon Strahan, who noted that young people were adopting healthier lifestyles, helping to drive down their alcohol consumption.

“For that younger generation, there’s a real conscious effort to look after themselves and their overall health,” he said.

“It’s not only about what they’re doing in terms of making sure they’re moderating their consumption, but it’s what they’re eating, doing more exercise and also wanting to really experience particular moments.”

SHIFT IN THINKING

That sentiment is echoed by 22-year-old Michael Gatto, who is training as an MMA fighter and lives a largely sober lifestyle.

“The only time I really want to drink is if it’s a one-off like somebody’s birthday, a social party and we’re going out dancing,” he said.

“But mostly I’ll be at the pub with my friends and I’m always the first person to order a soft drink and they’re the ones who are drinking.”

His health and intense training regimen are front of mind when deciding whether or not he’ll have a drink.

“My mindset when it comes to sport is it helps me if I try to do everything right,” he said.

“If I don’t drink, that’s one less thing to worry about. It gives me a little bit of anxiety [to drink], I don’t like to lose at fighting.”

He said that while many of his friends continue to drink, there’s been a shift toward sober social gatherings or more low-key events rather than drinking benders.

“Some of my mates, they’re drinking a lot less than what they used to before Covid,” he said.

“Maybe it’s maturity or people just want to save money or people don’t want to go out drinking all the time.

“A lot of social activities don’t require drinking as much as they used to.”

While DrinkWise is celebrating the declining rates of drinking, the data does show that 22 per cent of young people are considered “single occasion risky drinkers” meaning they consume more than the recommended four standard drinks in a single session.

There are concerns about those young adults as Schoolies is about to begin, traditionally seen as a major booze-fest for new adults looking to celebrate finishing high school.

Mr Strahan cautioned those who were looking to celebrate to do so in a safe way.

“This is a time to celebrate – it’s been a hard, stressful year for all the school leavers, but we want to make sure they stay safe,” he said.

“That means that if they are choosing to consume alcohol, to do it in moderation, track how much they are consuming, certainly to look after their friends, respect everyone around them, and to ensure they have a much better experience.”

He said he remained “optimistic” that school leavers would choose to do the right thing over the coming weeks.

“There’s many school leavers that are paying for airfare, accommodation, food, drinks, and they actually want to enjoy that experience – not forget the memories, which potentially comes with excessive consumption,” he said.

“So we’re seeing a much, much more sophisticated and mature attitude towards alcohol consumption.“

Originally published as More young Australians choosing to socialise without alcohol

Cristeen Gonzama

Cristeen Gonzales writes about health and medicine. She tends toward stories that reveal the on-the-ground impact of health policy, with a particular focus on the opioid epidemic, Covid-19 and abortion.

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