Home > Alcohol and drugs: a parent’s guide.

HSE Alcohol Programme. (2018) Alcohol and drugs: a parent’s guide. Dublin: Health Service Executive.

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It’s reassuring to know that most young people in Ireland don’t abuse alcohol or drugs but, for some, using substances at this time in their lives can give rise to all kinds of problems. It is internationally recommended that children and young people should not drink or take drugs as their bodies and brains are still developing until early to mid twenties. However, in Ireland despite the legal age for alcohol use being 18 years, the average age for those who do start to experiment with substances is around the age of 15 years. In a pro alcohol environment it can be difficult for parents to prevent children from engaging in this activity. However, the longer that young people can delay drinking and drug use the less likely it is that problems will occur in later life. Teenagers and young people’s attitudes to alcohol and other drugs are influenced by many things - friends, social media, advertising and, not least, the Irish drinking culture. Fortunately, in spite of these many influences, parents remain the single strongest influence on their child’s substance use behaviours.

This guide is aimed at parents, guardians and others who care for children. It can help you to understand the risks related to alcohol and drug use in teenagers. It oovers you practical advice on how to tackle issues that may arise. It also gives you tips on how to get the conversation about drugs and alcohol started with your teenager and how you can help them to protect themselves when faced with peer and societal pressure. This resource developed and published by the HSE Alcohol Programme will be supported by Leaving and Junior Cycle Social Personal Health Education (SPHE) lesson plans in the future.

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