Celebrate the Leaving Cert results safely – Talk to your kids about alcohol
The 2017 Leaving Certificate Exam results will be available on Wednesday, 16th August, and the HSE is urging parents to be aware that direct promotions to your kids about drinking alcohol are already taking place. Parents need to take steps to ensure teenagers have a safe night out and to be aware of the risks of alcohol promotions specifically targeting young people. While we live in a country where alcohol promotion is pervasive, parents need to know that they are the most important influence in informing young people about the risks associated with drinking and substance use and in shaping their attitudes. It is vital to have open conversations with teenagers ahead of their celebrations next week.
AskAboutAlcohol.ie offers a resource and support for parents, with information, advice and the full facts to help your child stay safe and be smart around alcohol. Some helpful advice on AskAboutAlcohol.ie for parents of teenagers includes “10 Tips for Parents” and “Tips for Talking to a Teen”.
Many students will attend Leaving Cert Party nights in nightclubs and venues across the country where they will be targeted with alcohol promotions. The ‘conversation’ with your children has already started. Examples of these events pages online encourage attendees to “celebrate your results or drown your sorrows” with promotions such as €3 drinks, “Vodka Boats”, free shot of choice, glass of bubbly on arrival, a free bottle of champagne with tickets, 5 free drinks tokens or “pints, bottles and Jägerbombs”. While many Leaving Cert students are over 18 and legally entitled to drink alcohol, drinking in this manner poses a significant hazard to their health and leaves them vulnerable to taking risks. Others will be under age and should not be put under pressure to drink alcohol.
Advice for parents
Dr. Eamon Keenan, HSE National Clinical Lead of Addiction Service, advises:
“When young people are targeted with cheap alcohol promotions, it can result in them drinking a lot of alcohol in a short period of time. This can cause rapid intoxication resulting in young people feeling disinhibited and leading to changes in their behaviour and taking risks they wouldn’t normally consider. These include drug taking, unprotected sex, possible aggression and getting into fights. They may also experience lowering of mood and, in some cases, depression or anxiety can be worsened. We need to talk to our teenagers about the effects on their health of excessive drinking and how to avoid risk taking behaviour.”
Parents can find more information by visiting the “What are the risks of teenage drinking?” section on AskAboutAlcohol.ie.
Even if your child is over 18, speak with them and set boundaries around alcohol. For safety, encourage them not to mix their drinks and to avoid shots. Parents should also advise against “pre-drinking” and make sure their teenager eats a substantial meal before going out. Tell them that if they feel themselves getting drunk they should stop drinking and switch to water. Always find out what your child’s plans are, who they will be with, how they will get home, and remind them to stick together and look out for one another. It is also important to let your child know that they can always call you, no matter what.