Alcohol use by 15 to 17-year-olds: 2014/15 ABAS: In Fact

Alcohol use by 15 to 17-year-olds: 2014/2015 ABAS.…
01 Jan 2015

The majority of New Zealand secondary school students report having drunk alcohol (Watson et al., 2003). Approximately two-thirds of young people (aged 15 to 19-years-old) who consume alcohol drank until they were intoxicated at least once in the past year (Ministry of Health, 2015). Alcohol misuse among young people is associated with increased risk of injury, death, motor vehicle crashes, mental health problems and sexual risk taking (Fergusson & Boden, 2011). The Health Promotion Agency’s (HPA’s) current advice to parents and caregivers of children and young people under age 18 is that not drinking alcohol is the safest option (Health Promotion Agency, 2014). The HPA’s Attitudes and Behaviour towards Alcohol Survey (ABAS) monitors New Zealanders’ behaviour and attitudes towards alcohol, including alcohol consumption in the past month. This factsheet examines 15 to 17-year-olds’ alcohol use.


The 2014/15 Attitudes and Behaviour towards Alcohol Survey (2014/15 ABAS) included questions about their consumption of alcohol and their experiences related to drinking alcohol. There were 193 respondents aged 15 to 17 years. Responses were examined by gender. Risky alcohol consumption was defined as five or more drinks of alcohol on one occasion. Frequency of alcohol consumption was defined as alcohol consumed on one day, two days, or three or more days in the last four weeks. Multiple responses were permitted when respondents were asked about their experiences after drinking alcohol. Only those group differences that were statistically significant (p < .05) are reported.

Key Results

• Almost one in three (29%) 15 to 17-year-olds had consumed alcohol in the past four weeks.

• Among 15 to 17-year-olds who had consumed alcohol in the past four weeks 39% had consumed alcohol on one day, 20% had consumed alcohol on two days and 41% had consumed alcohol on three or more days.

• One in two (51%) 15 to 17-year-olds who consumed alcohol in the past four weeks had 5+ drinks on at least one occasion. Just over one in two (55%) 15 to 17-year olds who reported a drinking occasion in the last three months had consumed five or more drinks on that occasion.

• The top seven selected responses for experiences after consuming alcohol among 15 to 17-year-olds were feel good, happy or relaxed, was able to de-stress or wind down, met new friends or people, felt more confident, got drunk/intoxicated, did some interesting things and had too much to drink on an occasion.

• RTDs, beer and spirits were the three most common types of alcohol consumed on the last drinking occasion. Males were more likely to consume beer, and females more likely to consume RTDs. Other responses did not differ significantly by gender.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018