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Pacific People More Likely To Be Non-Drinkers

17 November 2005

Pacific People More Likely To Be Non-Drinkers

Pacific adults and Pacific young people are more likely to be non drinkers compared with other ethnicities, according to the results of a survey released today by the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC).

Commissioned by ALAC and carried out in March and April this year, the survey looked at the current attitudes and behaviours of New Zealanders aged 12 and over towards alcohol. A similar survey was conducted in 2003.

Overall the survey shows New Zealand is a society that continues to tolerate drunkenness, with intoxication seen as socially acceptable behaviour.

However, ALAC Chief Executive Officer Dr Mike MacAvoy says there are encouraging signs that Pacific people, like other New Zealanders, are increasingly recognising the existence of a binge drinking culture in this country and are starting to recognise the link between drunkenness and the harms that result.

The survey shows about a third of Pacific adults (compared with a fifth of adults overall) and two thirds t of Pacific youth (compared with just under 50 percent of youth overall) are non-drinkers.

However, both Pacific adults and young people surveyed who do drink who consumed more than the general population on their last drinking occasion. Pacific adults consumed on average 6.3 standard drinks compared with 3.8 overall. For Pacific youth the average consumed was 6.9 compared with 4.7 overall.

Compared to all adults in general, Pacific adults appear to be polarised between those who are non-drinkers and those who are relatively heavier drinkers.

Pacific adult drinkers are more likely to agree they limit the amount of alcohol they drink because of family responsibilities; to ensure they don't do something they will regret later, concerns about demands of their time and the physical and mental effects.

Adult Pacific drinkers are more likely to have had personal involvement or experience of health-related harm, such as a hangover, loss of memory, injury, spending too much on alcohol or feeling unsafe when out drinking and partying due to either their own or someone else’s drinking.

Fewer Pacific youth state that, on their last drinking occasion, their parents were aware they were consuming alcohol. Pacific youth are more likely to report that they drink ‘out and about’ such as on the street, parks, malls, etc and more likely to report that they never drink alcohol at home.

They are more likely to have had their alcohol purchased by friends 18 and over and by family members other than their parents. There is also evidence that shows Pacific youth are much less likely than youth generally to receive alcohol from their parents.

Pacific youth drinkers typically hold greater concerns about parental control – they are more likely to agree that their parents set strict rules about them drinking alcohol and more likely to agree that they will get into trouble with their parents if they drink too much.

Pacific youth are also less likely to state that their parents talk openly and honestly with them about alcohol. Their concerns about teenage drinking relate to hangover, loss of memory, injury, and changes in behaviour. Fewer Pacific youth agree that drinking a small amount of alcohol every day is okay and they are more likely to agree that it’s never okay to get drunk. A greater proportion of Pacific youth agree that young people shouldn’t drink alcohol until they are responsible adults.

ALAC Chief Executive Officer Dr Mike MacAvoy says while more Pacific people don’t drink, many who do drink reflect the wider New Zealand risky drinking culture and binge drink. The potential for acute harm is higher with this pattern of drinking which is why ALAC is ensuring the generic messages generated so far reach their Pacific audience.

“The objective of ALAC’s Pacific Programmes is to ensure our key messages reach Pacific communities through appropriate resources in languages of the Pacific, delivered by Pacific community leaders and champions,” says ALAC’s Pacific Programmes Manager, Metua Faasisila.

“Pacific Programmes also aim to continue building on the evidence available as to Pacific alcohol consumption and approaches to reducing alcohol-related harm; provide training for Pacific peoples within the community and at primary care level, on early identification and resolution of alcohol-related issues; and focus on working with Pacific young people within their families and communities to create a safer and responsible drinking culture,” she says.


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