Do first jobs encourage underage drinking - GrogWatch Top Story

Do first jobs encourage underage drinking?

It’s concerning that one in five 16 – 17 year olds drink risky amounts of alcohol at least once a month, especially because we know it may damage their developing brain and may cause health complications later in life. It’s interesting that this age group is often also starting their first job at this time and young workers (aged between 14 and 29) are most likely to engage in risky drinking compared to the wider Australian workforce. The question is; how do these first jobs influence a young person’s decision to drink?

The research on alcohol in the workplace is summarised in an evidence review compiled by the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University and published by VicHealth. The review also found that people who work in hospitality, which many young people do, are 3.5 times more likely to drink alcohol at work or attend work under the influence.

The reasons why people drink at work include:

  • Increased access to alcohol (presence of alcohol in the workplace, price subsidy or free drinks)
  • Heavy drinking culture in the workplace
  • Stress
  • Boredom

This article continues GrogWatch’s series on issues to consider when talking with your child about alcohol. Giving young people information about why alcohol and the workplace don’t mix early will help them establish good work habits and curb the amount of workplace harm caused by alcohol:

  • Nearly 50 per cent of the Australian workforce consumes alcohol at a harmful level.
  • Almost a third of workers believe they have a co-worker who “drinks a lot”.
  • Around one in ten workers also say they have experienced the negative effects associated with a co-worker’s misuse of alcohol. The negative effects include reduced ability to do one’s job, involved in an accident or close call, worked extra hours, and took at least one day off work.

These issues are not only caused by consuming alcohol at work, but also by hangovers and tiredness from being out all night.

This research potentially poses a challenge for parents because at time when you want to support your children in one of the most important steps toward independence, you also need to provide them with guidance.

Share your experiences with teenagers entering the workforce with other parents by posting a comment below this story.