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National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that 23% of people aged 15-24 years reported using illicit drugs during the last 12 months, around twice as high as the proportion of people aged 25 years and over (11%).Marijuana/cannabis was the most common drug used by 15-24 year olds (18%).In 2007, the average age at which young men aged 15-24 years said they first consumed alcohol was around 15 years.For young women, the average age for first use of alcohol was around 17 years.DRINKING AT RISKY LEVELS Youth is often the stage of life when people begin to experiment with alcohol and other drugs.Although it is illegal to sell alcohol to people under 18 years of age, many young people have access to alcohol before they turn 18.

Based on information from the National Hospital Morbidity Database, there were almost 3,000 hospital separations among young people aged 15-24 years due to acute intoxication with alcohol in 2005-06.

While not all young people engage in these risky behaviours, the consequences for those who do, and for those around them, can be serious.

This article also examines some of the potential consequences: being charged with criminal offences, hospitalisation and, in some cases, death.

Short term risky/high risk drinking - often referred to as binge drinking - leads to immediate and severe intoxication.

In addition to its potential health consequences, risky/high risk drinking can increase the likelihood of a person falling, or being involved in an accident or violence.

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