Alcohol and other drug use at school leavers' celebrations

Tina Lam, Wenbin Liang, Tanya Chikritzhs, Steve Allsop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A significant proportion of adolescents who attend celebratory events often engage in substantial alcohol and other drug use. We examined patterns, influences and impacts of drug consumption at an end of schooling life celebration. Methods: Seventeen- to 18-year-old Australians who intended to attend (n = 541) and who attended the celebration (n = 405), respectively, completed pre- and post-event surveys. Results: Males consumed 18.44 and females 13.24 Australian standard drinks on an average day during the school leavers' event. Compared with their last social event, there was greater alcohol (P < 0.0005) and ecstasy use (P < 0.046 for Day 1 and P < 0.008 on Day 3). However, the number of drinks consumed per hour appeared to be similar across contexts. Most (87%) experienced at least one negative outcome attributed to alcohol and other drug use. Safety strategies were frequently used and appeared to be protective against some of the most common harms (hangover, vomiting, black out and unprotected sex). Conclusions: The use of alcohol and other drugs at this celebratory event appears to be reflective of the greater than usual number of drinking hours that are available to participants. The use of safety strategies can be successful in mitigating some of the most common drug-related harms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-416
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Public Health (United Kingdom)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Celebration
  • Health promotion
  • Large event
  • Leavers
  • Protective behavioral strategies
  • Risky single occasion drinking
  • Schoolies
  • Young people

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