Exams went well? Celebrate with a drink! Exams didn’t go as planned? It’s okay, here, have a drink, or five. Whether you are studying, working or just living life, drinking regularly and heavily in your teens and 20s is pretty normal here in New Zealand.
There’s this idea that the young, wild and free, make the most of boozing up before they have to grow up and mellow out. Turns out, the drinking habits we form in our youth continue into our 60s and 70s.
New research by Massey University’s School of Health Sciences and the University of Auckland’s Centre for Addiction Research found binge drinking isn’t something Kiwis grow out of. And a third of all New Zealanders are drinking to “hazardous” levels their entire lives.
Research co-leader Dr Andy Towers told Stuff these findings, which suggest drinking patterns are relatively stable across a person’s lifetime, were surprising. "The idea that younger drinkers will eventually 'mature' out of risky drinking when they get older is wrong… if you're a hazardous drinker in your 20s then you are likely to be a hazardous drinker in your 60s."
The term “hazardous drinking" relates to frequent drinking, and also binge drinking – measured as consuming five-to-six drinks at least once a week. It is these drinking patterns that can cause some serious damage down the line. "We know drinking large amounts of alcohol over a prolonged amount of time can lead to certain types of cancer as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and circulatory issues.
"It can also have negative effects on mental health issues such as depression and anxiety," Towers said.
"Helping young Kiwis to reduce their drinking now will help to reduce their drinking for the rest of their lives."