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Survey suggests Aussie teens overestimate their peers’ smoking and drinking habits

A group of teens in school uniforms chatting in the park
A group of teens in school uniforms chatting in the park

Since 2018 more than 5,000 teens across schools in NSW and SA have participated in Life Education’s ‘Reality Now’ pilot program

The program includes a live interactive survey tool completed by students in class which captures their perceptions of their classmates’ behaviours and attitudes about using drugs and alcohol, as well as their own, through a series of anonymous survey questions.

The results are then presented to the students in real-time and aims to prevent drug and alcohol misuse amongst the youth by correcting misperceptions about the attitudes and behaviours of their peers.

Released on World No Tobacco Day, the survey of more than 5,000 students from years 7 – 11 found:

Perception: Students assumed 60% of their peers were using tobacco at varying levels
Reality: 15% of these students actually reported using tobacco

Perception: Over 50% of students thought their peers were using cannabis
Reality: More than 86% of students said they have never used cannabis

Perception: Students believed 1 in 5 of their peers were drinking regularly
Reality: Only 6% of students reported drinking alcohol

Through real-time data provided by the students’ very own peer group, we hope that students are better equipped to make more informed and healthy decisions. Understanding that only a small portion of their peers engage in these risky behaviours is a powerful tool for young people to dismiss peer pressure and feel more confident in their choices to avoid drugs and alcohol.

Find out more about our partnership with Life Education NSW.

Infographic of Life Education Reality Now Survey