Why young people drink
Children begin to develop an awareness of alcohol at a very early age through:
- their family; and
- their community.
Research shows that by the time a child reaches five years of age, they have already formed basic attitudes and opinions about alcohol. Teenagers learn about alcohol through their own experiences, and observing the effects of drinking on family, friends and community.
Our teenagers learn from:
“…parents and peers, posters and propaganda, from pundits, publicans, priests, poets and performers, that in Ireland... a good social time and drinking alcohol are quite simply the same thing - without a good drink, and a few good drinks at that, you cannot have a good time.” Sunday Independent
Adults have a very important role to play in delaying the age at which a young person starts to drink.
Teenagers drink for many different reasons.
- They are curious.
- They want to be accepted and belong.
- Their friends are doing it.
- It makes them feel older.
- They want to rebel.
- They are bored.
Teenagers may also drink to:
- celebrate special events (exam results, birthdays, Debs);
- feel more confident;
- reduce stress (exam stress, relationship pressures);
- cope with sadness, unhappiness, rejection or low self-esteem; or
- get drunk!
Teenagers may use alcohol because they want to move away from being a ‘child’ and see drinking as a sign of maturity. As parents, you need to challenge the view that you need to drink to be an adult.