RM column May 23 – Half of all teenagers regular drinkers
It will come as no surprise to anyone really that a recent survey released during a conference in UCD on alcohol and drug abuse by young people has found that half of all young people use illegal drugs and binge drink regularly. This is the latest in a long line of similar surveys finding similar facts.
Of those 15 to 19 year olds taking part in the research conducted in the south and south east 19 per cent said they binge drink weekly, 51 per cent said they binge drink on at least one occasion a month and four per cent said they binge drink several times a week.
As the age group of those taking part ranges from 15 to 19 years old it would be safe to deduce that some of the older ones are probably working or in college where meeting up in the pub would be part of your social life.
The figures cannot come as a shock for some of those parents with younger teenagers because presumably for the younger ones in the four per cent who claim to drink a couple of times week the parents must catch them sometimes.
I have said previously that I have tried to de-mystify alcohol for the Young Wan, and so far, fingers crossed, it seems to have worked. (I am under no illusion this will always be the case.) When I say de-mystify I mean that she would occasionally be allowed a shandy (I would in no way allow her to drink those dreadful alcopops), if there are celebrations she gets to join in though if it is say wine it will be watered down or if it is champagne (a rare and lovely treat) with orange juice. I never wanted her getting a forbidden fruit feeling about drink.
The fact that she is not out and about at night probably helps a lot. But I do know some of this must have rubbed off because she was not impressed with drunk and puking friends during her Junior Cert results celebrations, particularly when she had to hold back a friend’s hair to facilitate them being sick and not covered in urrgghh. Not glamorous, not attractive, not fun and certainly not nice.
A pal in work just goes ‘yeah yeah’ when I say herself isn’t out and about drinking. But she isn’t. When she does hang out with pals at the weekend, she is home at a reasonable hour and I would notice if she had been drinking to say the least.
So it seems to make sense to me that parents must be catching their kids and I find it hard to believe they turn a blind eye and do nothing.
But what can you do to stop a teenager from doing what all their friends are.
I know of one family where the teenager who is the same age as the Young Wan is not allowed to drink under any circumstances and this seems to work for that particular family, I am under no illusions at all that this would work for everyone.
As I’ve said I made the choice to not ban alcohol and I know for other parents they would not want to do that either.
So now you have found the apple of your eye passed out drunk on the bathroom floor, what do you do?
Firstly it is probably best to send them to bed with a big pint of water. The next morning you should probably waken them early with a fog horn or something of a similar decibel preferably a song they love at a level they normally love too.
But joking aside probably the best thing a parent can do is to know exactly where their child is, to have an idea of what they will be doing and most of all to keep talking to your child about the dangers of alcohol without preaching.
Somewhere between our preach and it hitting their ears it turns into blah, blah, blah; they will just switch off.
Like so many things we have to keep talking to our young people and as honestly as we can. After all that is what we want from them, so it is the least we can do for them too.