Drinking, chroming a worry in the Loddon Mallee region

BINGE drinking continues to be a major health concern for young people.

According to the latest State of Victoria’s Children report, results from the Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey 2008 show that rural young people were more likely than their metropolitan peers to think that “getting drunk every now and then is not a problem”, “having a few drinks is one of the best ways to relax”, and that “drinking is a good way of getting to know others”.

Loddon Mallee and Barwon South Western region were found to have the highest percentage of young people aged 15 to 17 drinking in the past 30 days.

The report also highlighted Barwon South Western Region as having the highest proportion of young people who smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days, followed by Western Metropolitan Regional and Loddon Mallee.

Loddon Mallee had the highest percentage of young people sniffing glue or chroming and 15.4 per cent of the region’s mothers were smokers.

Bendigo Community Health Services CEO Kim Sykes said smoking was not easy to give up but there was plenty of help available to curb the habit.

“Whether that’s through your GP, chemists or programs like the ones we run here, there are things out there and lots of people have successfully given up, and that’s fantastic,” she said. “The earlier you try and control it the better.”

Ms Sykes said while underage drinking was not new it was always concerning.

“What is new is the information that shows us how damaging it can be,” Ms Sykes said. “We need to look at why someone might drink and what can we do to help make drinking a less attractive choice.

“The report tells us that the young people themselves, they gave us a reason that it’s really easy to obtain.

“Now that’s not really a reason why you drink but it’s a factor that we as a community should probably look at when it’s given as one of the reasons.”

HARMFUL: Binge drinking among young people continues to concern. Picture: FAIRFAX

HARMFUL: Binge drinking among young people continues to concern. Picture: FAIRFAX

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