Alcohol and young people

Alcohol and young people

What is alcohol?

Alcohol is a depressant (a drug which reduces functional activity of an organ) which acts by depressing some of the functions of the brain. In low doses it can cause us to become less inhibited and less anxious. Consuming moderate amounts of alcohol can make us drowsy and uncoordinated, and can slow our reflexes. In large amounts alcohol can cause us to become sedated, slow our breathing and even kill us.

The consumption of alcohol is considered socially appropriate in Irish society and this is the drug most frequently consumed by young people. This does not usually present a problem to society until teenagers become rowdy or appear in large numbers, as in celebrations after the Junior Certificate. The law states that alcohol can not be sold to anyone under 18, yet this is widely ignored.

What are the effects of alcohol?

The effects of alcohol on young people are similar to those in older age groups, with the added problem of increased at-risk behaviour that accompanies the taking of a disinhibiting agent. Sexual activity can increase, often without contraception and there is an increase in the rate of accidents. Many third-level students report binge drinking, something that is very common on college campuses. Heavy alcohol use in young people is associated with:

  • Impaired academic performance.
  • Unplanned and unsafe sexual activity.
  • Sexual assaults.
  • Arrests for driving while intoxicated.
  • Unintentional injuries.

How prevalent is the consumption of alcohol among adolescents?

One in eight post primary pupils report ever having had an alcoholic drink. A survey of Dublin school children age 13-17 years reports that 38% had been drunk at least once. In another study, conducted through St John of Gods Hospital, it was found that 83% of the 1,000 14-17 year olds surveyed had used alcohol. A consumer spending survey reports that young Irish people spend almost a quarter of their spending money on alcohol. The average age that children who drink regularly start drinking at is 12.

What are signs of alcohol abuse?

A marker of frequent or heavy binge drinkers in adolescents is reported amnesia of events and injuries, sometimes trivial, that they can’t remember sustaining. In young men this is often dismissed as an acceptable part of a good night out. Admission to an emergency department for treatment following alcohol ingestion should alert parents that the adolescent has an alcohol problem.

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Anonymous - 13/08/2008 10:53

Please can you tell me about Antbooze, and whether it is harmful over a time of use?

kissey - 19/08/2008 22:15

hi. children of any age should not drink. we have a son who is aspergers and he likes a pint, but i have told him no drink with your meds. young people think that they are big when they drink. i didnt have a drink till i was 18, and i didnt like it, so why do they like it? it gets them into more trouble.

bj - 09/08/2009 03:08

I have a daughter with Primary Generalised epilepsy she drinks heavily even though I have warned her over and over, she thinks (as do her friends) that it's ok to deliberately go out and get smashed. Her Father is a member of AA sober until recently, and my Dad suffered from the same problem. Can anyone offer any advice? She is on Social Welfare as she cannot get a job, so she uses the money to drink or to use other substances. Any advice would be very welcome.

purple - 10/08/2009 13:19

hi BJ

My son has a disability, he shouldnt be drinking either, he is 20, he was out satruday night at 9 till 2am which i didnt approve of, he went drinking yesterday evening to but came home early, if your daughter has a nurse or doctor she attends go and speak to them about the way she is, my son is only allowed 2 drinks, as he is on meds too, but wont listen, he listens when i say im getting in contact with your doctor, also u can have her social welfare stopped and collect it yourself,

bj - 10/08/2009 15:41

Thanks Purple,

How do I stop her social welfare payments? My daughter has been under the care of the HSE, but it didn't make any difference, she has A.D.H.D and O.D.D. so she doesn't care what anyone says. She constantly makes promises but then doesn't follow through. She was out all night on Friday, came home on Saturday to sleep during the day, went out again Sat. night (all night) and refused to come home until very late last night.


purple - 10/08/2009 23:00

hi BJ

my son has autism, he goes out forgets to ring to say he will be home late, now you can check with your local community welfare officer and ask her/him advice on what to do about u collecting her money.

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