The number of young people drinking to get drunk rose to nearly 60 per cent in the past year, while 73 per cent had preloaded on cheaper drinks at home before going out, according to a comprehensive survey of Australian's drinking habits.
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The latest annual alcohol poll by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) shows 57 per cent of young people had drank with the intention of getting drunk compared with 50 per cent in 2014. FARE published the results of a national survey of 1830 Australians on Thursday.
Of those young people aged 18 to 34 years who drank, 25 per cent had drunk enough to vomit and nine per cent had passed out.
The results showed that the current policy of promoting "responsible service" was a "complete failure," said Caterina Giorgi, FARE's policy officer.
Only 38 per cent of Gen Yers had been asked for proof of age in the past year when they were out at a pub, club or bar, and only 42 per cent had been asked for ID at a bottle shop. Of all drinkers, 50 per cent said they preloaded – or consumed cheaper alcohol at home or at a friend's place.
"If these people are turning up to licensed venues drunk, then according to our laws and responsible service, they should not be let in the door," said Ms Giorgi. "What this shows is responsible service of alcohol is a complete failure."
There was also a huge disconnect between the average person's views of their own drinking versus those of others, said Ms Giorgi. The poll found:
And when those who drank to get drunk were asked about their perception of being drunk, 48 per cent said it was when they started to slur their speech or lose balance.
"While people identify that alcohol is a problem, often they don't see the problem as being their own drinking. They see it as that person over there, or the young person being involved in a fight, or the person with chronic cirrhosis of the liver, " said Ms Giorgi.
Drinking rates had also stayed stable for the past five years.
Ms Giorgi said new approaches were needed that spelled out the recommended guidelines of two standard drinks a day, and no more than four drinks.
"If 92 per cent think they are responsible drinkers, they are going to turn around and say I am already there."
Fewer Australians thought we had a problem with alcohol than last year, down from 78 per cent to 75 per cent, and more people were optimistic about the future.
Yet 73 per cent reported seeing alcohol advertising in the past year, and of those, 69 per cent considered it to be inappropriate. Most people wanted the government to do more, including increasing the number of police on streets, 85 per cent, banning alcohol advertising on public transport, 65 per cent and on TV before 8.30 pm, when children are watching, 63 per cent.
FARE's chief executive Michael Thorn said Australians want to see change, and they will respond positively to governments that take decisive action. "Alcohol has long been seen as an issue that's too hard to touch – but the poll shows this couldn't be further from the truth," he said.
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