herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Binge warning for teens as Leaving Cert results night looms

Leaving Cert students queue outside a Dublin nightclub
Leaving Cert students queue outside a Dublin nightclub

A culture of "celebrating excessive drinking" is encouraging young people to try alcohol at an earlier age, a leading Irish charity has warned.

Alcohol Action Ireland wants parents to warn teenagers about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption ahead of tomorrow's Leaving Cert celebrations.

It has also warned that "normalising" over-indulgence and "celebrating excessive drinking" are having serious negative impacts on young Irish people.

"What we've noticed is that young people are starting to drink at an earlier age, and a lot of this is down to the normalisation of binge-drinking," said Conor Cullen, the head of communications and advocacy for Alcohol Action Ireland.

Accountable

"Although the volume of people drinking excessively hasn't necessarily increased or decreased in the last number of years, the age at which people are starting to drink has become alarmingly young."

However, the charity feels that young people should not be held solely accountable for this, and blames a lack of legislation and independent regulation.

"Legislation is currently going through the process of being drafted and it can't come soon enough," said Mr Cullen.

"There are serious problems with regards to cheap drinks promotions that are attracting young and impressionable teenagers.

"We have seen businesses advertise €1 shots for tomorrow night's Leaving Cert results celebrations, which simply will do no good."

Statistics show that around three people die every day from an alcohol-related incident in Ireland. Alcohol misuse costs the State around €3.7bn a year, with each taxpayer forking out more than €3,000 a year each for the financial consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol Action Ireland's CEO Suzanne Costello is encouraging parents to discuss the risks of excessive alcohol consumption with their children.

"Getting the Leaving Cert results can be an emotional and, for some, stressful time," she said.

"If you add alcohol into the mix, this can make an already challenging situation even more difficult for young people and put their health and safety at risk, particularly if they drink to levels they haven't done before."

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