Thursday, October 26, 2006

RM October 19 - Teens and binge drinking

Teens and binge drinking

Teaching teenagers a realistic education about safe levels of alcohol is more successful in dissuading our teenagers from excessive drinking than shock horror tactics, a conference held in Dublin this week has been told.

That makes sense to me; I’ve always felt that demystifying alcohol is a good approach to giving your teen a healthy attitude about drinking.

On occasions where there’s been champagne like at weddings, the Young Wan has always been offered a glass to join in the toast. She’d then take a taste and pull a face. Sometimes I would put some orange juice into it and it would be sitting on the tabled discarded hours later.

In the interests of her participation in the proceedings and to put away any notion of alcohol being forbidden fruit and therefore more desirable I always thought this was best.

It was always my experience growing up that it was those of my friends who were absolutely forbidden to drink who would be the ones who would need carrying home now and again. It rarely happened in the households where drinking was out in the open and discussed with an open mind without lecturing.

The Young Wan recently asked me about alcopop drinks and what they were like. I told her I thought they were vile, horrible sickly-sweet drinks however when I am out lots of people do drink them.

I went on to say they can be dangerous because they taste like lemonade and people end up drinking lots and lots of them. In a short time they are absolutely hammered and health risks aside getting into that state can lead you into dangerous situations, particularly when you are young and not used to drink and it’s effects on you. That’s not being out and about and enjoying a drink and craic with your friends, that’s just drinking to get blottoed.

When I first started going into pubs, we would drink glasses of cider and blackcurrant and nurse the glass all night. Course that was the 1980s and most teenagers did not have money to do anything else. But we were out socialising and having fun so we did not feel we were missing out on anything.

From cider and blackcurrant we switched to cider, beer and blackcurrant known in Belfast as a ‘purple nasty’, only we didn’t think it was nasty. Again though we didn’t have the money to enable us to get absolutely langers. Would we have if we had the money probably we were teenagers.

It is a far different story nowadays, many teenagers actually has what amounts to a disposable income, so they can spend their own money on whatever and for some it is going out and getting hammered.

All this binge drinking will have serious health consequences for many of our young people in years to come. But for them as they are now, health problems are something that only happens to old people; it is not something they get.

The other problem of peer pressure is another fraught aspect to teenagers coming of an age where these temptations are put in their way. It can be hard for them to say no to their pals which emphasises for me the need to be open and honest with your teen about drinking. There is no point saying no to them and having a drink ourselves, or saying they wouldn’t enjoy it when we clearly do. It is more about setting an example where you can have a drink in moderation, have fun and most importantly be safe while doing so.

When this raises it’s head for me as a mum, I hope I can stick by all this, I would prefer for her and her pals to have a drink in my home with me there rather than on the corner of some alley way.

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CyberScribe said...

Thats great if the teenager has responsible parents. If not and if it becomes acceptable and laws change to suit the theory, God help us.

Anonymous said...

Teenagers tend to follow the herd regardless of what their thick parents say so if their mates are all into getting hammered, then they will too unless they have steely characters and those are kind of rare...