Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Guardian’s Alcohol Supplement

The Guardian have a supplement (sponored by the drinks complany Diagio) which looks our relationship with alcohol as a nation.  It includes a number of pieces that focus on young people.

The Teenager:

Most of my friends drink. We have more fun when we do. We put our money together – usually about £4 each – and get older kids, people we know, to buy us booze. Last year we used to hang out on the streets and drink but now we go to people’s houses. I’ve got drunk enough to make me sick a few times but I don’t like getting really pissed any more because it makes you feel so rough the next day. I don’t touch vodka now because I know it makes me sick. I just stick to wine or beer. I like just getting merry.

She goes on to say that she thinks that this is just a stage she’s going through rather than something that will set her patern of drinking for life.

The Parent:

Scarlett’s relationship with alcohol is, I would say, fairly typical. Young people think it’s cool to drink. Most young people flirt with danger and want to try the forbidden fruit. The trouble is that Scarlett and her friends are necking vodka out of litre lemonade bottles on a regular basis when at her age I was sampling a bit of cider and the occasional dry martini.

I really don’t like Scarlett drinking but I don’t know how to stop her doing it, other than to keep her constantly locked up in her room. I worry about the effect of excessive amounts of alcohol on her developing body and brain and I warn her of the dangers. I’m not sure how she and her friends get hold of booze, but it doesn’t seem to be at all difficult.

What teenagers think about binge drinking:

Units of alcohol are a complicated matter, cheap drinks are welcomed and throwing up is a humiliating but accepted part of growing up. But while teenagers believe they could be better informed about the dangers of alcohol, the sociable side of drinking still holds undisputed appeal.

Young people in the UK, among the heaviest drinkers in Europe, are the target of both government and industry campaigns to tackle binge and under age drinking – so the Guardian went out onto the streets of Britain to speak to them about their experiences with alcohol.

They found that most of the people they spoke to were interested in socialising, but thought they didn’t have a problem.  That said, a few they quote thinks there’s a role for enhancing alcohol education in school:

Mikey Harrington, 21, from Leeds and a barman, says peer pressure decreases with age. “When I was young I wanted to drink at dinner like my dad. There’s pressure to drink at a young age: it’s seen as a sign of maturity and adulthood. Now, I just drink because I want to.”

He thinks alcohol education in schools needs improving. “Kids should be taught responsibility and how to deal with alcohol properly,” he says. Alex Ford, 19, from Leeds, a singer in a post-punk band, agrees. “People should be taught the importance of knowing their limits: it’s reckless to get drunk to the point of being paralytic,” he says.

Sport, theatre and a thirst for change:

Today’s typical consumer is likely to be a young girl, who gets her drinking education from watching EastEnders and Big Brother, buys bargain vodka from an off licence for a little “front loading” before heading to a bar for happy hour, trying to emulate the celebrities she has seen falling out of nightclubs in Heat magazine. And all while possibly being under the age limit. Only last week, a report by the University of the West of England censured radio DJs on the BBC and commercial radio – listened to by millions of young people – for “celebrating excessive drinking”.

The rest of the supplement can be found here.

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