Underage Drinking – Drinkaware

 Underage Drinking - DrinkawareMy own experience of drinking underage

I know too well that children drink underage. I was around eight years old when I had my first drink! It was around the same time that I had my first cigarette. My mom did not really drink as her dad had drunk too heavily. My dad, on the other hand, drank even during his lunch break at work, and then drove home (they were divorced might I add). Every other Saturday he would take me to the working men’s club and drink; eventually buying drinks for me underage. I would say I started drinking properly when I was around 12. By this time I was drinking Barcardi and coke (when I could be bothered with the Coke), Vodka, and eventually my drink of choice became cider and black. My family would buy me drinks on holiday, and other than that I’d drink on the streets with my friends, or around their houses. I was not allowed to go to nightclubs and so sneaked out to one when I was 15 – and it was true that most of my peers were actually there. I drank too much and put myself in dangerous situations. I heard recently that those who drink underage are more likely to have sex when drunk, and get lower GCSE grades. This is not something that I want for my own children.

A role model for my children

My oldest son is 18 next month and doesn’t drink. I rarely drink now but during his early years he saw some sights. With me coming back to him with my hands all scratched where I had drunkenly fell in a bush. I would tell him to do as I say and not as I do – that drink was to blame. I am not sure if it was the bad example or the wise words but he hasn’t had alcohol – even when offered a small wine to let in the New Year. I genuinely believe that children learn by example. There is plenty of support on the Drinkaware website for helping to ensure that you are drinking safe amounts. This includes £85 worth of free credit when you register which can be used to purchase things such as a unit measuring cup.

Underage Drinking - DrinkawareChildren aged 10-13 years old

Now our second son, who is 11, has just moved on to secondary school. It is the age where he will meet new friends and together they may become curious about drinking. The Drinkaware underage drinking campaign core target group is for parents who have a child or children ages 10-13 year so it seems I would not be wrong in my belief that it is an age when curiosity may get the better of them. I think that it is really important to teach him about the dangerous He did not think it was important at his age as drinking has never occurred to him – that’s when I told him how young I was when I began drinking and how I did not want him to make the same mistakes. I told my son about the dangers of drinking underage, and the difference between spirits and beers, as well as unit and measures

Being drunk under 16 years old means you are 85% more likely to be involved in violence.

I can see how this is me. Lower self-esteem, doing things I am not proud of because of the drink, further lower self-esteem. Bet that made me an easy target for attracting a partner that I suffered Domestic Violence from at aged 16.

Compared to non-drinkers, underage drinkers are more likely to smoke tobacco, use cannabis or use other hard drugs

True. I have already said that I smoked and didn’t manage to give up until I was 24 years old. It seriously affected my health – especially my breathing.

Underage Drinking - Drinkaware

The Drinkaware website has plenty of examples of why children drink, the risks of underage drinking and how to talk to your children.After looking for myself I can see that when I tackled talking to my 11-year-old about drinking I handled it all wrong. I don’t think that the facts I used were wrong but I did corner him in his bedroom before bed! I think the site is extremely useful and full of lots of factual information. It is really for parents to access the material but think that it is straightforward enough for my 11-year-old to use should he not feel he wants to talk to his parents about it. The website also allows you to do a check on what risks you are taking with your drinking based on your consumption, age and sex. It told me what I already knew – that I am a binge drinker – and that is dangerous. The reasons I drink were spot on too, and so was the rational for them being poor excuses.

There are two Webinars being held to help parents learn to more about the risks of underage drinking, how to have effective conversations with children about alcohol, and to ask any issues surrounding underage drinking. To register your interest:

27th November 2014 – The associated risks of underage drinking

10th December 2014 – How to address the issue of alcohol with your child and how to have effective conversations with them



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