Alcohol-related social disorder and rural youth: part 1 - victims


The consumption of alcohol is embedded in the culture of rural Australia. By their early teens, most youth in rural Australia have tried alcohol and some consume alcohol regularly. Typically, youth consume alcohol at hazardous and harmful rates, increasing their likelihood of being involved in social disorder as victims or perpetrators, or both. While there has been much anecdotal evidence of an increase in alcohol- (and other drug-) related social disorder in rural Australia in recent years, and particularly so for disorder involving young persons, there has been very little empirical data to support, or contradict, the commonly held perceptions.

The data presented in this, and a forthcoming Trends and Issues, paper reports alcohol-related social disorder between 1993 and 1998 among young persons aged 14–19 and 20–24 years living in rural areas of Australia. Rates of alcohol-related social disorder in these age groups in rural areas of Australia are compared with rates for older rural Australians and with rates in metropolitan areas. The data themselves do not “explain” why living in a rural area protects youth from, or exposes youth to, higher rates than their metropolitan counterparts. However, knowing the extent and nature of the differences and similarities is a necessary first step in developing appropriate interventions.