Talk to exam students about alcohol risks

Parents urged to have 'open conversations'
  • Deborah Condon

The parents of Leaving and Junior Cert students are being urged to talk to their teenagers about alcohol ahead of their end-of exam celebrations.

Over 55,000 Leaving Cert students and 62,000 Junior Cert students began their exams on June 6. However, with the end now in sight, parents are being asked to have open conversations about the risks that alcohol consumption can cause.

According to the HSE, short-term risks can include accidents, alcohol poisoning and risky sexual behaviour, while longer-term risks can include poor mental health, memory problems and alcohol dependence.

"If your child is over 18, talk to them about how they are going to celebrate. Come to an agreement between you that includes things like if they are going to drink, how many drinks they will have? Advise them to drink soft drinks in between alcoholic drinks and not to get into rounds with friends," commented child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr Bobby Smyth.

He said that parents should also talk to their children about who they will be out with and how they are going to get home.

"Agree a time for them to be home and talk to the parents of their friends. It will work best if you all take the same approach. Also, it is so important to let your child know that they can always call you, no matter what. They need to feel they can safely call you if they, or a friend, gets into trouble. And if your child is under 18, whatever the celebration, make it an alcohol free one," he commented.

Dr Smyth pointed to research which shows that the earlier young people start drinking alcohol, ‘the greater the long-term risks'.

"My advice for parents is to be informed about the risks associated with alcohol, and to chat to teenagers openly about them. Reassuringly for parents, research has shown that children who have conversations with their parents and learn a lot about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are up to 50% less likely to use alcohol and drugs than those who don't have such conversations," he added.

For more information for parents, click here or contact the HSE Alcohol Helpline on 1800 459 459.


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