Australian Secondary Schools Alcohol and Drug Survey 2017 Data (Published in December 2018)


• 43% of students accessed their last alcoholic drink from Parents. Only 2% of 16 and 17 year olds and 1% of 12-15 year old students bought their last alcoholic drink themselves.
• 37% of 12-17 year old students were using premixed spirits.
• Around 38% of current drinkers reported that they intended to get drunk most or every time they drank.
• Risky drinking is more common among males than females:

  • 2% of 14 year old males
  • 6% of 15 Year old males
  • 11% of 16 year old males and
  • 16% of 17 year old males 

Note: While any alcohol consumption is risky for teenagers, drinking five or more drinks on one occasion in the past week indicates risky levels of drinking for adults.

• The most common negative events after drinking:

  • 39% vomiting
  • 33% trying a cigarette
  • 23% trying drugs
  • 21% having an argument

In Australia, alcohol is the second leading cause of drug-related death and hospital admissions after tobacco. Over one in every 10 deaths (13%) of Australians aged between 14 and 17 is alcohol-related, and each week around five Australians aged 15-24 years die and another 200 end up in hospital due to alcohol-related causes. 


Cannabis was the most common illicit substance used with
• 17% of students aged 12 – 17 reporting that they had used the drug
• 8% in the last month and
• 5% in the last week.


• Most secondary school students (94%) had never used ecstasy.
• For both younger and older students, the prevalence of ecstasy use was higher than in 2011 and 2014.


• Around 13% of 12 -17 year old students indicated that they had used an e-cigarette at least once:

  • 4% of 12 year olds
  • 21% of 17 year olds

• 32% of these students had used one in the past month.
• Statistics indicate that younger male students were more likely to have experimented with vaping and to have become more regular users.
• 48% of vapers had not smoked a tobacco cigarette before trying an e-cigarette.
• Around 25% of these students reported later trying tobacco with 5% becoming regular smokers.

Signs of a drug use:

While a moody teenager is often ‘normal’, a change in their level of engagement in things they are passionate about and in their school performance may be a sign. Are they spending a lot of money? Are they spending time on their own?
Talk to your child if you notice a change. “You appear quiet, is there something happening?" Ask them what may be happening for them without jumping to conclusions. Remember, there may be other reasons for a change in their behaviour. If you remain concerned, talk to others who know them well.
Work on developing a deeper level of engagement and conversation with your child. Build a relationship that is positive and built on trust. Do not drug test your own child. This may harm your relationship. It is better to have the conversation built on trust than to test.
What should you as a parent say to your child if you discover they are ‘using’? Do not confront, antagonise or aggravate; ask questions empathetically, not aggressively, and keep asking. Seek professional help for advice as to how to support your child (your GP or the Psychologists at the College are a good starting point). Support them, remind them you are there for them and that you love them. Remember many youngsters use substances to “feel better”. Do not alienate them. Together, you can find support and move forward.