• 80% of alcohol related injuries are serious
  • 10% of injuries are carried out intentionally
  • 7% of injuries are caused by another person*
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*The Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation

The Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation (AER). AER is a not-for-profit company established in 2001 with a mandate to change the way we drink. Originally established with a federal government grant it is now an ongoing trust.

The AER has revealed that this year alone 65,000 people will be hospitalised for drink related injuries while a staggering 3,500 will die from drinking too much.

Paul Dillon author of “Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs” and Generation Next speaker, has given some practical advice to teenagers on how to look after their friends when they drink too much. He recommends:

  • Stick with them and never leave them alone
  • Monitor them
  • Reassure them
  • Keep them comfortable and hydrated, and
  • If in doubt, call for help.

The AER has recently carried out research into the drinking behaviour of young Australians and the results are alarming. The main concern is the changed drinking habits of young women who are now more likely to end up in hospital because of alcohol related injuries than their male counterparts.

Professor Ian Webster, director of the AER warns “the overall rate of alcohol-related injuries has stayed roughly about the same over the past 10 years, but it’s increasing in young women enormously”.

Doctors in many hospitals have confirmed this. “Women are more prepared to fight once they’ve been drinking,” says Dr Gordian Fulde, head of Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital’s emergency department.

“We’ve become a much more aggressive society and young women especially consider it a rite of passage to get drunk well before their 18th birthday.”

There has been a dramatic change in the sort of drunken assaults in recent years. Dr Fulde says “one thing that definitely is a trend is that we have become a lot more violent. People stomp on heads and kick. We see some really horrible injuries.”

The Australian culture as a whole accepts alcohol as a normal part of everyday life. In deed we have made it an integral part of our celebrations and it seems almost essential if we are to enjoy ourselves in the old “true blue Ozzie fashion”.

The way alcohol is marketed, especially to young people, only serves to reconfirm these beliefs. Research by Professor Sandra Jones, of the University of Wollongong, found many young people exposed to alcohol advertising believe “alcohol is required to have a good time”.

If this cycle isn’t broken, drinking patterns and injury rates are unlikely to change. “Today’s binge drinkers are tomorrow’s role models,” says Dr Fulde.

It seems that now is the time to turn these trends around so that young people are fully aware of the dangerous consequences that excessive drinking can bring.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha

Source: Sunday Telegraph