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[Health Service Executive] Launch of ‘Alcohol and drugs: a parent’s guide’. (19 Nov 2018)

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Today, (Monday, 19th November 2018), over a cup of tea at The Vintage Teapot on Dublin’s Cathedral Street, parents and their teenage children joined the HSE’s Alcohol Programme to launch Alcohol and Drugs: A Parent’s Guide.  The HSE is encouraging families to have a cuppa and a chat, and for parents to get the conversation started with their teenagers and young people about the risks linked to alcohol. The Parent’s Guide, which is available to download or order for free from www.askaboutalcohol.ie/parents, is filled with information and practical advice on how to talk to teenagers about alcohol and other drugs. The launch coincides with European Action on Alcohol Week.

The Parent’s Guide has been written by experts specifically for parents and includes insights directly from young people. The Guide has advice on topics such as getting the conversation started, how to  stay close to your child and help them to resist pressure from their friends and the media, how to set boundaries and much more practical advice and helpful tips.

Dr Gerry McCarney, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, notes how important it is for parents to make opportunities to have these kinds of conversations and to set boundaries for their children:  “Trying to chat about ‘big’ things like alcohol or drugs with your teenager can feel very difficult. It is tough to find ways to stay close to your child at a time when it may feel like they’re pushing you away, but feeling loved and connected makes a huge difference to them. Teenagers and young people need their parents to steer them in the right direction, which means having conversations about these topics. This guide will help you to decide what’s OK and what’s not OK in your family, and how to let your child know. Teenagers can put up a good argument, but you still have the right to set the rules and say that you don’t want them to drink until they are at least 18”.

Research shows that adolescents who receive permission from their parents to drink alcohol experience more alcohol-related harm. This is because teenagers who get the thumbs up from parents tend to give themselves greater permission to drink more than their peers. (Find more about the effects of alcohol on adolescents below).

Speaking about the Parent’s Guide, Catherine Byrne, TD., Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, said:  “I am delighted that this new resource for parents has been launched. It coincides with EU Action on Alcohol Week, and follows the recent passing of 'Public Health (Alcohol) Act', a watershed for Irish Public Health.  All of these initiatives and policies are designed to help us protect our children from alcohol and alcohol-related harm. Parents play a critical role in this process, and I hope this guide will encourage them to have that conversation within their family about the risks of consuming alcohol and other drugs, and the damage they can do to our health and wellbeing”.

Brian Wall from the Institute of Guidance Counsellors highlighted the importance of parents and schools working together to tackle the issue: “It is so important for young people to understand their emotions and how alcohol can be damaging for their developing brains. We’re making progress on this issue – young people are increasingly aware of the impact of alcohol, especially on their mental health. Now that we have this really useful guide for parents, along with specific SPHE Alcohol and Drugs modules for junior and senior cycle, we’re putting the tools for real change in the hands of parents and teachers. By working together and ensuring a consistent message at home, at school and in society we can really put in place the practical measures to keep them safe.”

Effects of alcohol on a teenage brain: Alcohol and young people – the facts

Alcohol is harmful to the brain, especially those that are still developing. Drinking alcohol while the brain is still developing can damage two key parts of the brain: the area responsible for logic, reasoning, self-regulation and judgement, and an area of the brain related to learning and memory. This damage can then impact on a young person’s thinking, functioning and behaviour in the long term. There is also evidence that adolescents who use alcohol are at increased risk of developing mental health difficulties including emotional problems¹. Drinking alcohol can stop young people from developing the coping mechanisms that will help them to have good mental health later in life.

¹ http://www.who.int/mental_health/mhgap/risks_to_mental_health_EN_27_08_12.pdf

Parents remain the single strongest influence on their child’s alcohol and drug use and having a close relationship can help protect them from the risks. The HSE is encouraging parents to use this guide to help them get the conversation started and tackle any issues that may arise.

For more information or to order or download a copy of the Guide visit: www.askaboutalcohol.ie/parents

Issued by HSE National Press Office

Press Office: 01 92 13912 / Email: press@hse.ie 

  • Askaboutalcohol.ie aims to improve people's knowledge about alcohol – how much we're drinking, how it affects us healthwise, and how we can gain more by drinking less.
  • Parentline can offer support through a number of ways. Phone on 1890 927277 or 01 8733500.
  • HSE Drugs & Alcohol Helpline is a confidential service and has both a freephone Helpline (1800 459 459) and an email support service (helpline@hse.ie).
Item Type:News
Source:Health Service Executive
Date:19 November 2018
EndNote:View
Subjects:A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence > Substance use behaviour
A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence > Substance use behaviour > Alcohol consumption
B Substances > Alcohol
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention approach > Prevention through information and education
L Social psychology and related concepts > Marital relations > Family and kinship > Family relations > Family role > Role of parent
T Demographic characteristics > Parent
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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