Home > Youth drinking problem? Perhaps we should look at ourselves…

[Alcohol Action Ireland] , Ryan, Fiona Youth drinking problem? Perhaps we should look at ourselves…. (12 Jul 2012)

External website: http://alcoholireland.ie/2012/youth-drinking-probl...

A column for TheJournal.ie by Fiona Ryan, Director of Alcohol Action Ireland.

WORKING FOR AN alcohol charity after an incident like the Phoenix Park concert usually means getting asked about young people and alcohol: Why they drink the way they do.

Certainly the results of the recent European Schools Project report confirm we do have a serious problem with underage drinking. The thing is, we also have a serious problem with adult drinking which never seems to get as much attention. Alcohol-related crime costs us an estimated €1.2 billion a year, but it’s not just the teens that are adding to the crime drinks bill.

Irish teenagers drink marginally less than their European counterparts but when they do drink they drink more. Worryingly, 84 per cent of 15 and 16-year-olds in Ireland say they had no problem getting alcohol, 40 per cent have been served in pubs and/or nightclubs, while one in four say they had bought alcohol in the off trade ie off-license – shop, supermarket or specialist retailer. Combine that with cheap alcohol where it is possible to get absolutely hammered for under a tenner – to put it into perspective, one hour worked on minimum wage is €8.65 – and you have a heady cocktail contributing significantly to public order as well as other types of crime.

What is often forgotten is that children and young people are also one of the groups likely to be disproportionately negatively affected by other people’s drinking. This doesn’t make for as good headlines, is complex with no easy solutions and generally makes us all really uncomfortable. Alcohol is our favourite drug and the idea that drinking might actually affect others, beyond identified groups such as problem families or out-of-control teens, is one we don’t really like to think about.

For example, one in seven kids in care is there because of a parental drug or alcohol problem. More than 80 cases of suspected child abuse or neglect are being reported every day to social services – family members with alcohol problems are the most common concern. The Report of the Independent Child Death Review Group a couple of weeks ago raised alcohol as a particular area of concern citing that in the case of the young people who had died of unnatural causes alcohol in the home was the second most prevalent issue in their lives after neglect.


Repository Staff Only: item control page