Drinkaware has shared some useful tips to support parents to speak openly
Drinkaware the national charity working to prevent and reduce underage and risky drinking, is advising parents in Waterford and across Ireland to have a conversation about alcohol with their children ahead of the Leaving Cert celebrations.
The Drinkaware 2021 Barometer found that binge drinking had increased in 18-24-year-olds, from 38% in 2020 to 51% in 2021.
Additionally, drinking alcohol for coping motivation peaks among this age group - 72% of 18-24-year-olds cite drinking as a method of coping with negative feelings.
The pressure from Leaving Cert exams in an uncertain time has taken its toll on our young people, with increased feelings of stress and anxiety. Drinkaware advises that parents keep this in mind when opening the conversation about alcohol with their young adults.
Drinkaware has shared some useful tips to support parents to speak openly about how their young adults and teens can enjoy their celebrations and look after their health this summer:
1. Plan ahead: Ask them to share their plans with you and ask how they would like to celebrate and with whom. Discussing safe ways they can keep within the public health guidelines, agree boundaries, and make sure that you are both fully informed and comfortable with the plans.
2. Talk about alcohol: Discuss whether alcohol will be involved, the peer pressure they may experience, and different ways they can comfortably manage that. It’s important that they are aware how alcohol, especially binge drinking, might impact on their behaviour and wellbeing. Explain that alcohol is a depressant and using alcohol to cope with stress, or to feel happy in social settings, can have the opposite effect.
3. Check in with other parents: Talk to other parents to share your rules around celebrations and socialising. It’s likely that other parents will have similar concerns about how to safely manage gatherings. Speaking to other parents will help you to assess the potential impact of external influences.
4. Come up with alternatives: Discuss the celebratory and socialising options, such as alcohol-free alternatives, mocktails, or soft drinks.
5. Do not assume they will drink alcohol: Young adults are leading the global ‘sober curious’ movement amid a desire to prioritise health. Encourage your teen to embrace this alcohol-free lifestyle.
6. Mind your own mental health: This has been a stressful time for parents too. Be a positive role model for students by setting a positive and healthy example around alcohol. When you mind your mental health and celebrate good times in a way that does not involve alcohol, it shows young people how to navigate the world in a healthy way.
Sheena Horgan, Drinkaware CEO, commented:
“Finishing school, and state exams are important milestones for young people. They deserve to mark the occasion, but to do so safely and to protect their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
“This rite of passage, that is so often fraught with mixed emotions, can be difficult for young people to navigate. We know alcohol is often used as a coping strategy, so it is important that students are supported to manage difficult feelings in a healthy way and without alcohol.
“Drinkaware is therefore encouraging young people to socialise safely this Summer, and for parents to talk their young adults and teens about alcohol.
“Our Parents Hub is a free resource to find out how to talk openly about alcohol without judgement, There’s also advice there for parents of Junior Cycle students regarding preventing underage drinking as we know many may be exposed to alcohol during their post-exam celebrations”.
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