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Excessive drinking concern for Pacific youth


For immediate use
8 May 2008, 1.30pm

Excessive drinking causes concern for Pacific youth

Young Pacific people are in danger from excessive drinking, in what could be a growing epidemic in New Zealand, delegates at the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC) Pacific Spirit conference were told today.

The findings of a mental health survey that included problems associated with alcohol and substance use, showed Pacific survey participants were less likely to drink than Maori or 'other' (mainly of European descent), but for those who did drink, the prevalence of hazardous drinking was significantly higher.

Research Analyst, Jesse Kokaua, says the results for Pacific peoples are cause for concern.

"One of our most significant findings was that, although overall alcohol consumption is generally lower amongst Pacific peoples, those who do drink are more likely to drink to excess or develop alcohol disorders.

"The main reason for this is because our Pacific population is very young and the excessive behaviour of many who do drink," he says.

"Of more concern, by age of 25 years, 96 percent of Pacific young people had used alcohol - which was similar to that for other ethnic groups."

The survey was nationally representative, with approximately 13,000 participants, (nearly 2,400 of whom were Pacific), who were interviewed face-to-face.

It was conducted during a twelve-month period from 2003 to 2004 and data from other sources also point to the fact that, in recent years, the problem has been gradually getting worse.

Jesse Kokaua is currently undertaking further research into mental illness and substance abuse among Pacific peoples and their resulting patterns of service use.

"A challenge will be how services will respond to what is potentially a growing epidemic among New Zealand’s young Pacific population," he says.

"Something must be done before the situation further worsens and we will certainly see consequences if communities fail to take action."


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