Alarming age boys have their first alcoholic drink revealed
Boys have their first alcoholic drink at the age of 10, with one in five drinking regularly by the time they are 14, a new national snapshot has revealed.
By 17, four in 10 drinkers binge on booze, and one in 10 consumes more than 10 standard serves of alcohol in a single session, the Australian Institute of Family Studies research shows.
The study, drawing on data from 16,000 men and boys, found nine in 10 adult males drink alcohol. One third engages in risky drinking causing them to feel guilt, hurt themselves or acquire alcohol-related illnesses.
Young adult males aged 18 to 24 are most likely to consume alcohol in moderate to high-risk ways, the "Ten to Men: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health" research study also found.
The concern for researchers is that boys carry their early drinking habits into adulthood, with almost half of those who drank as teenagers drinking alcohol in their early 20s. Only 20 per cent of those who didn't drink while teenagers go on to drink in early adulthood.
AIFS director Anne Hollonds said reducing the number of males starting to drink in adolescence was crucial to the long-term health of men.
"It is important that parents and adolescents understand that avoiding alcohol until adulthood is best to prevent harmful habits forming early," she said.
The study also found one quarter of boys who drank had friends who consumed alcohol behind their parents' backs. This compared to less than 20 per cent of those with no friends drinking without their parents' permission who tried alcohol themselves.
Ms Hollonds said the negative consequences of alcohol use in Australia were well known, but that risks were heightened for young adult men.
"Many Australian males experiencing adverse health or engaging in certain risk behaviours can become stuck in an unhealthy cycle - and then they find it difficult to make changes to improve their health and lifestyles," Ms Hollonds said.
"We need to create a culture and initiatives that support Australian men to make changes to stop them drinking at high-risk levels."
The findings come as other research shows that, compared to females, males are three times more likely to die from alcohol use - 12 per cent compared to four per cent.
Drinking alcohol, suicide and self-inflicted injuries are the leading causes of ill health and death among Australian males aged 15-24 years.
Originally published as Alarming age boys have their first alcoholic drink revealed