“E raka te maui e raka te katau" "A community can use all the skills of its people”
The earlier a young person starts drinking, the higher their risk of experiencing alcohol-related harm and developing alcohol dependence. For each year a child delays drinking, it is estimated that they reduce their risk of becoming dependent on alcohol by 9–21% .
Those under 15 years of age are at a very high risk of harm - particularly in relation to becoming alcohol dependent in later years. In a 2013 New Zealand survey, 60% of 15-19 year olds reported consuming alcohol before the age of 15 years .
Young people experience many more harms from their drinking when compared to other age groups. This is partly due to the high amounts of alcohol that young people drink as well as their immature bodies being unable to cope with the damaging effects of alcohol. Again, those under 15 years of age are at a very high risk of short and long-term harm from alcohol, but a high risk remains for drinkers aged 15−17 years .
Harms from drinking include:
New Zealand guidelines  are consistent with those in Canada , Australia , and the United Kingdom , and recommend that young people delay alcohol consumption for as long as possible, particularly those under the age of 15 years. It is further recommend that if drinking has initiated, it should occur under guidance, and at low levels and frequency .
Click here for a factsheet on the harms from drinking in adolescence
Click here for a factsheet on trends in adolescent drinking in New Zealand
Click here for a factsheet on the role of alcohol availability in adolescent drinking