Teenagers and alcohol – two words commonly put into the same sentence. Whether you’re complaining about the number of ‘kids’ roaming around adult venues or making use of the fragile state of drunk teenage girls, it seems it’s common knowledge that teenagers drink – and majority of the time, just to get drunk. Often it’s likely that the more mature of the young adults wonder how parents let their kids run loose in such awkward situations and more-so whether they realise what they’re doing to themselves by abusing alcohol in such a way.

Often parents are ignorant to the activities of their children or have no idea what to do about the issue of alcohol abuse. (Alcohol abuse is classified at binge drinking, getting severely drunk more than twice a week and reverting to alcoholic behaviour. Binge drinking is most commonly known as 5 drinks for males and 4 drinks for females.) ‘Teenagers & Alcohol’ is a comprehensive information booklet available for parents and teenagers at most high schools in the Western Cape. Produced by The Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA) and a large number of medical persons, psychologists and educators from the Bishops Support Unit, the booklet is packed with information, stats and facts about teen alcohol abuse in the South Africa.

With chapters detailing the effects or results of alcohol abuse; why teenagers drink; advice to parents; prevention of alcohol abuse and the legal consequences including numbers, websites and organisations for help, information and guidance for both parents and teenagers alike.

Although the book does suggest parents take some drastic and embarrassing steps, the booklet is more of a guide than a set of rules.  It’s also interesting to read the physical, psychological and neurological effects of adolescent alcohol use.

Overall, the book is helpful and does include interesting as well as clichéd tit bits and ample suggestions for parents and teenagers. Although it provides interesting prevention tips and family help everything can be taken with a pinch of salt and made to work for each individual. Alcohol is as good as every other substance but only with responsible drinking and knowledge of its effects on the mind and body. Alcohol is becoming a huge issue with young people starting from the infantile age of 11.

For help contact:

–          Alcoholics Anonymous                                                  021 510 2288

–          Al-Anon                                                                       021 595 4517

–          Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre                              021 447 8026

(Has an adolescent outpatient programme)

–          Life Line (24 hour hotline and counselling)                      086 132 2322

–          The Parent Centre                                                        021 762 0116

–          UCT Child Guidance Clinic                                             021 650 3900

–          UCT Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Unit                          021 685 4103

–          www.sahealthinfo.org/admodule/alcdrug.htm

(Alcohol & Drug Module, SA Health info)

–          http://www.sadd.org.za

(South Africans Against Drunk Driving)

–          www.favor.org.za

(Faces & Voices of Recovery)

And more information on the booklet – http://www.ara.co.za/ or phone a high school in your area.

…so you think you’re invincible?

Don’t Drink and Drive…


Robyn Smith (@RobynLeaSmith)

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