Australia is slowly changing its toxic relationship with alcohol. Non-alcoholic drink sales are spiking, the number of us drinking more than two standard drinks per day has dropped, and the number of us abstaining altogether has increased.
But no demographic is shunning booze at a higher rate than teenagers.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, from 2007 to 2019, the proportion of people aged 14–17 who abstained from alcohol increased from 39 per cent to 73 per cent. And it's a similar case for those aged 18–24. The proportion of people abstaining in that age bracket jumped from 13.1 per cent to 21 per cent.
They're also being introduced to alcohol later. In 2001, the average age at which Australians reported first trying booze went from 14.7 years in 2001 to 16.2 in 2019.
So what's behind this change?
Watch: What happens to your body when you stop drinking alcohol. (Post continues below.)
Mamamia's daily news podcast, The Quicky, spoke to Dr Amy Pennay, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research at Latrobe University, who pointed to social and structural reasons behind why young Australians are drinking less.
"We are seeing attitudinal shifts in the acceptability of drinking and intoxication. We're also seeing a shift in young people just not seeing it as cool or a necessary or interesting rite of passage. And we are seeing more people concerned about wellness," she said.
"And they're connecting with people online a lot, where self-presentation is really important. But also, spending a lot of time online means you can socialise a lot more in different spaces that are less likely to be in a park or at a pub or places where drinks are available."