The Mid Tipperary Drug Initiative (MTDI) would like to wish the very best of luck to all the leaving cert students who are no doubt, anticipating their results next Wednesday. Students deserve to go out and celebrate getting their results, marking a major milestone in their lives. For a significant number this could involve alcohol. It is important for parents to discuss with their teenagers their plans for the evening and find out if these plans involve drinking or not. Many teenagers may feel that they have to drink to celebrate and even feel under pressure to do so.
New research reveals that young people in Ireland are beginning to drink at a younger age than ever before. Children born in 1980 were on average 16 years old when they began drinking, while children born just a decade later began drinking on average at 14 years of age. (Smyth B et all, 2011, Journal of Alcohol and Alcoholism)
It is important that as a parent you recognise the significant role you play in preventing your children’s drinking to damaging levels. A recent survey found that young people are very aware of their parent’s ‘keeping an eye’ on their activities and as such are less likely to drink in such a way.
The MTDI would urge parents to talk to their teenagers about what their plans are for the evening, asking where they are going, who they are going with, how and when they plan on getting home. Remind them that they don’t have to drink to enjoy themselves. While you may not be pleased about their decision to drink, if they find themselves in trouble, as a parent tell them you would much prefer they call home than fear the consequences of their drinking.
The most recent survey of drinking among European 15 and 16-year-olds (ESPAD) found that parental monitoring is a “major factor in preventing substance misuse”. Some of the issues to consider are:
Food: If your teenager is over 18 and heading out for the night, make sure they eat well. You could cook them their favourite meal or suggest a family dinner out before they meet up with friends.
Talk: Talk to your teenager about their plans for the evening, where they plan to go and whom they’ll be celebrating with.
Money: It’s important that your teenager has enough cash for cabs etc., but giving them too much cash could lead to further temptation.
Advice: If your teenager didn’t get the results they’d hoped for and you’re not sure what to do next, contact the Leaving Certificate Helpline.
Parents and Teenagers please feel free to contact either Carmel (087 6188 075) or Roger (086 4459 607) from MTDI if you have any concerns or queries regarding alcohol or drugs at any time.