New research on teenagers and high risk drinking now available

May 2018

New research about risky drinking behaviour and related harm among Australian teenagers is now available. The Young Australians Alcohol Reporting System (YAARS) aims to investigate higher risk drinking practices among Australian adolescents. YAARS was first trialled in 2013 in three Australian states, and in 2016-2017 surveys were conducted with 3,500 14-19 year olds in every jurisdiction of Australia.

While in recent years many Australian teenagers are choosing not to drink at all, in 2016 one in five 14-19 year olds still drank at levels that put them at risk of injury, at least once a month (NDSHS 2017). The young people selected for the YAARS survey were chosen because they were engaging in drinking patterns that were associated with risk of harm.

Survey participants described their most recent risky drinking session, including how much they drank, where they drank, the types of beverages they had, some of the outcomes of this consumption, and how they tried to keep safe while drinking. Participants were asked about these experiences to determine which factors contribute to, or protect young people from, alcohol related harms.

Main Findings

  • Half of the survey participants were consuming 11 or more standard drinks per session at least once a month.
  • Most (83%) had been injured as a result of their drinking in the past 12 months. Saying or doing embarrassing things, vomiting, doing impulsive things and blacking out as a result of their drinking were also common.
  • The research found that unsupervised drinking in non-licensed locations was the norm – 90% spent time drinking in private locations such as homes at least once a month.  
  • The young people were conscious of these drinking outcomes and actively tried to mitigate against harms with a variety of safety strategies.

National and state specific YAARS reports are available at

YAARS is led by the National Drug Research Institute (Curtin University) with collaborating partners from the University of New South Wales, Monash University, the University of Tasmania, Flinders University, ACT Health, Charles Darwin University, and the University of Queensland. The team is supported by the Commonwealth Department of Health to promote the health and wellbeing of young people.