26 Jan 2022

Drinkaware advises parents to have a conversation about alcohol regarding the Leaving Cert celebrations

Drinkaware appeals to parents to discuss alcohol misuse with school leavers ahead of Leaving Cert results

Drinkaware has issued an appeal ahead of Leaving Cert results

Drinkaware, the national charity working to prevent and reduce the misuse of alcohol, is advising parents to have a conversation about alcohol with their children as the Leaving Cert celebrations and summer socials are being arranged.  

The call comes as Drinkaware’s Alcohol & COVID-19 Barometer 2020 found that 82% of 18–24-year-olds report drinking for social reasons including celebrating and ‘because it’s fun’ (compared to 49% national average). 

As the last exams take place on Tues 29th June, Leaving cert students will be looking to mark this important milestone with families and friends this week and the weeks ahead, and the charity is advising parents to set and  communicate clear boundaries to help them celebrate and socialise safely.  

Drinkaware has shared some useful tips to support parents to speak openly about how their student children can enjoy their much-deserved  celebrations and socialising safely this Summer:  

1.    Plan ahead: Ask them to share their plans with you  and ask how they would like to celebrate and with whom. Discussing safe ways they can keep within the public health guidelines, agree boundaries, and make sure that you are both fully informed and comfortable with the plans. 

2.    Talk about alcohol: Discuss whether alcohol will be involved, the peer pressure they may experience, and different ways they can comfortably manage that.  It’s important that they are aware how alcohol, especially excessive drinking, might impact on their behaviour and wellbeing. Explain that alcohol is a depressant and using drink to boost mood or confidence, or to commiserate,  will often have the opposite effect. 

3.    Check in with other parents: Talk to other parents to share your rules around celebrations and socialising. It’s likely that other parents will have similar concerns about how to safely manage gatherings. Speaking to other parents will help you to assess the potential impact of external influences.  

4.    Come up with alternatives: Discuss the celebratory and socialising options, with regard to alternative activities to mark the occasion, and alternative drinks to alcohol.  

5.    Don’t assume they will drink alcohol: Younger adults are leading the global ‘sober curious’ movement amid a desire to prioritise health. Encourage your teenager to embrace this alcohol-free lifestyle. 

6.    Mind your own mental health: This has been a stressful time for parents too.  The Drinkaware Barometer 2020 showed households with teen children were amongst those with the lowest mental wellbeing.  Stay calm and manage your own anxieties before you talk to your children. Being a positive role model and setting an example around alcohol is very important. When you use coping and celebratory strategies that don’t involve alcohol, it is showing your young person how to deal with problems in a healthy way. 

Sheena Horgan, Drinkaware CEO, commented: “This has been a tough year for Leaving Cert students, and the classes of 2021 have had to deal with unprecedented levels of anxiety, stress and uncertainty. The completion of the Leaving Cert is a huge and important milestone for these students and they rightly deserve to enjoy the release from the exam and Covid-related restrictions to their social lives.   

“But it’s crucial this enjoyment is positive and safe.  Drinkaware’s engagements with parents typically centres around their concerns regarding how they can discuss alcohol with their young people.  

“Our advice is to talk openly about these concerns, but also about how their young adults manage intense feelings of stress, low confidence, celebration, or peer pressure, all of which are prevalent at this time of their lives.  We know alcohol is often used as a coping strategy, so it is important that parents discuss how feelings can be managed in a healthy way and without alcohol.” 

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