Drinking trends in adolescents

Drinking in the last 12 months among 15-17 year olds

The New Zealand Health Survey shows 50,000 fewer 15-17 year olds drinking in 2016/17 than 2006/07. This is a fantastic change to see - but we still have a long way to go as over half of all young people in this age group are drinking.

Hazardous drinking among 15-17 year olds

We have witnessed great declines in the prevalence of young people being classified as a hazardous drinker.  ‘Hazardous drinking’ refers to an established alcohol drinking pattern that carries a risk of harming the drinker’s physical or mental health or having harmful social effects on the drinker or others. 

The prevalence of hazardous drinking from the New Zealand Health Survey is shown below. The number of hazardous drinkers almost halved from 2006/07 to 2015/16! The question in the survey then changed, so using the new question only comparisons can be made from 2015/16 onwards. This shows the following:


Among all secondary school students (not just those aged 15-17 years), fewer were choosing to drink in 2012 (61%) than in 2007 (45%).

However, adolescents who do drink continue to drink large amounts. Of particular concern, young adolescent females in New Zealand may actually be increasing the volume of alcohol they consume when drinking. It is believed that young people are drinking on fewer occasions, but are still drinking heavily (i.e. the culture of heavy drinking and drunkenness has not really changed).

For more information on adolescent drinking, click the button  ADOLESCENT DRINKING


DRINKING IN NEW ZEALAND