Sunday, September 28, 2008

20-Somethings All Fkd Up On Drugs And Booze....

Well, A Few Are

By Darryl Mason

Studies that show young people are blasting themselves out of reality on drugs and booze should never be trivialised. Then again, it is traditional for tabloid media to take statistics and turn what could actually be good news, positive news, into another 'Young People Today Are Anti-Social Drug Pigs' set of headlines and community decaying charicatures.

When the stats actually reveal that most Australian 20-somethings are not actually fukk'd n' bombd out of their minds, tabloids must apply the word 'underclass', and load up the intro :

An underclass of young Australians is battling depression, booze, drugs, and poor health, according to a landmark study.

One in five Australians in their mid-20s has a serious mental or physical health problem.

Twice as many suffer depression or anxiety, take illegal drugs, or engage in risky, anti-social behaviour.

What the decades-long, landmark study, the Australian Temperament Project, actually reveals is far more interesting than that guff. But the good stuff, that is the positive news, is dumped beyond the headlines and the first few paragraphs, where most people do not read :

"(They seem) to be an industrious, engaged group of young people..."

About 80 per cent had jobs, 20 per cent were studying, half of them worked 39-50 hours a week and another 10 per cent worked more than 50 hours a week. And 60 per cent were involved in a committed relationship with a partner.

Spin the 'underclass' stats another way, and you get this :

5 out of 6 23-24 year olds do not suffer depression or anxiety.

5 out of 6 do not engage in anti-social behaviour.

5 out of 6 do not use cannabis, or any illegal drugs, and do not binge drink regularly.

4 out of 5 do not have any long-term mental or physical health problems.

Consuming toxic quantities of booze, however, remains a problem. They hit their mid-20s, they drink more, and more often. Then again, isn't 3 or 4 drinks regarded by health officials as a 'binge' now? But as with cannabis, Es, speed and acid, most of them will likely decrease their drinking as they get bored with it, in their late-20s, and tire of hanging in nightclubs and pubs most weekends, when clear-headed work and love and hibernation Saturday nights become more desireable, along with healthier bank balances.

If the worst that can truly be said of a reasonably small number of 23-24 year olds is that they drink too much, then they're not doing too badly after all.

They may not be marrying and having kids at the rate that Baby Boomers did, but they are not soaking up anywhere near the same quantities of drugs and alcohol. More of them have jobs, more of them are working longer hours, and far less of them are dying on the roads.

Plus, more importantly, the mid-20ers are nowhere near as isolated from their families as Boomers were in the 1970s. Look at this remarkable stat, shamefully buried at the bottom of the story :

...94 per cent of young people said their relationship with their parents was important to them.

The best news of all.