How much is too much?

Richard Humphrey lifts the lid on drinking by Dunedin tertiary students.

In New Zealand, as in much of the world, alcohol is one of the most commonly used and socially acceptable recreational drugs. Young people are more likely to drink excessively, with direct and indirect risk of alcohol-related harm from the drinking itself and associated behaviours such as violence, criminal offending, and sexual activity.

Principal Lecturer in Sport Richard Humphrey and a team of students under his supervision carried out research into alcohol consumption by Dunedin tertiary students, building on previous studies and creating a baseline for future research. Students who volunteered to participate were sent a weblink to complete the questionnaire anonymously. 141 students completed the whole questionnaire, which used standardised questions from the international Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) template.

The results of this 2016 study were concerning:

  • 80% drank at more than "moderate" levels
  • 20% appeared to be dependent on alcohol
  • 80% consumed 5 or more drinks a day when drinking, which is considered binge drinking
  • 52% had injured themselves or someone else as a result of their drinking

This confirms that there is a problem with excessive drinking by Dunedin tertiary students, which requires effective intervention. Richard thinks this problem is likely to be attributable at least in part to the introduction of RTDs and the ready accessibility to alcohol from off-licenses leading to pre-loading.


October 2018

Image credit: Malloreigh, used under Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0