Abstract: Objective The objective of this research was to answer the question “In Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, why do young people aged between 18 and 25 use alcohol the way that they do?” Design A qualitative design incorporating semi-structured interviews and focus groups was used. Setting The focus groups and most individual interviews were conducted at various locations in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek according to the preferences of the participants. Participants Twenty young people aged between 18 and 25 years participated in the project. Eleven of the 20 participants were women and both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous youth were included. Main outcome measure The outcome of interest was the self-reports of young people regarding the way in which they use alcohol, why they use it that way and how they came to use it in the ways that they do. Result Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyse the data. Two superordinate themes and six sub-themes emerged from the data. Key findings were that: boredom and peer pressure were not key factors in alcohol use; alcohol was used as an activity to have fun with friends; and youth do not engage with current approaches to health messaging. Conclusion Young people in remote Australia drink for complex and sometimes contradictory social reasons. Young people should be involved in the design of any programs targeting alcohol use.