Thursday, April 1, 2010

Youth and Alcohol – Are We Killing Our Kids?

Today I hear the news that a 21yo male has been fired from his job, not because he couldn’t do the job, not because he couldn’t follow workplace rules but because he couldn’t get out of bed to attend work, not because he was sick with the flu, but because he had alcohol poisoning.

This is not the first time this has occurred, nor the second, nor the third. It happens EVERY Monday and often Tuesday as well.

This child (because he acts likes one) can not function without alcohol. He has had his license suspended, he has an interlock fitted on his car. He has been in for a review to get the interlock device removed and has failed. He was setting if off almost every day in the morning, which shows he drank every night and possibly to excess to set the interlock off every morning.

This kid effectively worked only 3 days a week, although meant to be working 5-6 days with on-call work every 4 weeks. The on call work was never attended – he would just turn his phone off.

He is one case in 1000’s just in Melbourne alone. I’m not sure what causes children to run off the rails and hit the bottle (Because that is what’s happening) but here are some theories, bought to you by the links provided.

From:- Youth Central Vic Government
Mr Munro says 80% of Australians drink, and as a general rule of thumb 10% of drinkers are alcohol dependent. However, he points to research reported by Professor Jake Najman at the 2008 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Conference, from the University of Queensland, who argues that of the 80% of Australians who drink, 30% are impaired in one way or another from drinking.
Impairment may range from not being able to fulfil social responsibilities like going to work or family events. The problem is a lot more widespread than previously thought. "Because drinking is so widespread and common in Australia, many people don't see it as a sign of alcohol dependency," Mr Munro says. "But dependency on alcohol can lead to work problems, drink driving, financial stress, accidents and conflict within the family which could even trigger the breakup of a family."

Salvation Army
Statistics now show alcohol accounts for 13% of all deaths of 14-17 year olds in Australia with one teenager dying each week of alcohol related causes and another 60 teenagers hospitalised.
The new (2009) Roy Morgan research also shows:
1.7 million Australians believe it’s safe to give someone 12 or under an occasional sip of alcohol.
5 million Australians believe it is safe for someone 15 years or under to be given occasional sips of alcohol.
7 million Australians had their first alcoholic sip or drink in their home.
8.8 million Australians had their first alcoholic sip or drink when they were with their family.
7.8 million Australians suggested they should have their first drink or sip of alcohol themselves; 2.9 million said parents suggested it.

Journalism Australia
A 2003 alcohol awareness survey by the Salvation Army found the age at which people start drinking is getting younger with 58% of 14-17 year olds drinking before 14, compared to their parents of which 25 per cent started before they were 14.
The survey found 22% of 14-17-year-old girls regularly drink between 13 and 30 drinks a session, compared with 19% of 14-17-year-old boys. The main reason both groups drank was to fit in at social activities.
Former information manager at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre Paul Dillion told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2002 many school children drank “to get out of it, to get wasted”, with Australia being one of the few countries where binge drinking was viewed as acceptable.
“Parents see alcohol use as a protective factor against other drug use,” Mr Dillon said.
“But in reality the only drug problem most will experience with their child will be alcohol.”
This problem also spans to other countries. A study in the UK has been following over 11,000 people since birth. The study found those who participated in binge drinking at 16 were more likely to have had an alcohol dependence, criminal conviction, left school early, have limited qualifications, earn less and had mental health problems at the age of 30, than those 16yo who did not binge drink

The Natural Health Expert
From a somewhat different viewpoint, since both parents in quite a few families work full or part-time, the lack of parental guidance unquestionably has to play a primary role in the expansion of teenage alcohol abuse. And as a final point, diverse alcohol addiction experts emphasize the point that the proliferation of youth alcohol abuse is due, to some extent, to our “anything goes” society.

I don’t pretend to be an expert – hell I’ve got an 18yo girl and keeping track of her and on the straight and narrow is hard enough, without adding alcohol to the mix.

I suppose as a family we are lucky – we eat together, often play together and our children see that we don’t drink very often, only on special occasions, we don’t drink as a habit, occasionally we might drink with friends, but no more than 1-2 glasses in one sitting, we don’t need to drink to have a good time, to be able to socialize. We’ve always been that way.

I watch some adults, 30yo plus and they quantity of alcohol they do consume in one sitting and cringe, not just because of the health implications, but if they really need THAT much alcohol to socialise and be nice, there HAS to be a problem.

I watch pregnant women, drink champagne with ice-cubes in it, because they aren’t meant to be drinking, but a little bit won’t hurt, will it?

I watched grown men complain because the wine isn’t to their liking and there’s nothing else to drink. Ummmm there is tap right over there, Melbourne has the best drinking water in the world. Besides that I’m drinking coke, would you like some? And there is orange juice in the fridge.

I’ve seen grown men and women go out for dinner and get blotto, without thought for how they are getting home, and then count the drinks to figure out who drank less and who will be better off driving!

There is something wrong, if the children see this behavior of course they are going to think that drinking copious amounts of alcohol on a daily basis, is normal and they too can do it. Mum and dad won’t notice a bottle missing, it’s cool to be like an adult.

WRONG – children under the age of 21, should NOT be drinking, it can damage their brains, their development and social skills. It has been proven that children <15yo>21yo or older. The more alcohol is consumes the greater chance of alcohol-related problems in later life, including alcohol addiction. Different parts of the brain develop at different ages for different genders. The part of the brain that controls rational thinking matures at different ages in men and women. In women this may not fully mature until 21yo or older. In males it does not fully mature until 28years of age. This can affect memory, personality and behavior. In other words PERMANENT BRAIN DAMAGE can result in drinking ANYTHING before the age of 21 in either sex.

Do not be fooled into thinking one drink is okay. One dose of illegal drugs is not okay, one cigarette is not okay – why should alcohol be any different?

And from a paramedics point of view:- "We see children or young people who are basically unconscious," he said. We've seen people that can basically vomit left laying on their back and consequently have issues with choking, brain damage”

Is this what you wish for your children? I don’t think so – I certainly hope not. Remember alcohol might make you feel better and confident, but is your sense of bravado killing your children?

Think about it before you pick up that drink tonight, or tomorrow night or the night after. Talk to your children about the dangers of alcohol, it’s not the schools job not the governments job to raise your children IT’S YOUR job. It takes two to tango.


  1. I am glad I don't have to set a good example to kids but if I had kids, I would be responsible, as I am work wise because I have to be .00 Two workmates just last week both lost their licences for second drink driving offences.

    When I was young, drinking was ok and many drove after drinking. Kids did get drunk, but they generally did not write themselves off like kids do now. Your parental example only works up to point. Many kids had bad examples too in the sixties and seventies, yet did not drink like young people do now. These kids would now be of our age and their children are the ones who go overboard. It is puzzling and certainly not simple. Partly it must be that being drunk was bad when I was young, sneered at by many. Is this just one more area where our generation has failed the generation that followed and are subsequently failing the next?

  2. My personal thoughts are that once upon a time children were seen and not heard, but in the swinging 60-70's it became okay for little johnny to talk back and experiment a little with 'naughty' things and not get terribly punished, and then when those children had children they took it a step further and now we are looking at the consequences of free and liberal thinking. Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes plain old rules with relative punishment sometimes is all that is needed very early on.
    These days it is not fashionable to say no to little Johnny, you might harm his self-esteem - SERIOUSLY!
    How can anything be solved with that attitude?

  3. The threat of punishment was enough. Funny though, we are worrying the young people as our parents worried about us and our parents' parent's worried about them. I think it will be ok. There are too many sensible young people around for it not to be.

  4. Hmmm...there's a lot I could say about a lot in this post but I might just make 2 points.

    It seems that people in general have lost the ability to take personal responsibility for their own lives and for those in their care and complain when something bad happens because of that. Through that we've seen more litigation, causing organisations and all levels of govt to react irrationally in some cases and introduce draconian requirements that tend to punish those that were never at any risk in order to prevent the dumbest in society from doing themselves injury. The barrage of obstacles that then builds up has an impact of the development and growth of communities, including the natural relationships within those communities, leading to antisocial consequences to those who never experienced them as time moves on. This then feeds off itself and goes into a downward spiral, causing even more irrational and draconian kneejerk responses from the top. Taken long enough, we're looking at Nanny State where no one is allowed to do ordinary adult things because the standards have been forced down to the level of the youngest and stupidest. Take it another step and you start to enter the realm of totalitarian regime where no one is allowed to know about an alternative way of life nor even discuss the possibilities. A lot of what we see today in terms of attitudes of young people and what they do has been building up for more than 20 years. There is no acknowledgment of this and govts running on 3 and 4 year terms don't have the imagination or security of tenure to instigate long term measures to address the real problems. None of them know what to do about it, really, beyond strategies that grab column inches in newspapers that address merely the symptoms without any effect on the root cause. To start making any real change, people need to start talking about how we actually got to this point and start thinking about how we get back.

    The second thing to keep in mind is the concept of forbidden fruit and what that means to a rebellious teen who wants to make a point and prove you're not the boss of them and has no concept of their own limitations. I'd be wary of driving an outright prohibition strategy in this given that it's not terribly difficult, with a bit of focus and determination, to create much more potent and seriously health damaging "home-brews" (in the literal sense - pun not intended) from potato peelings, for example, that can quite easily see people go blind. (OMG - again, no pun - I didn't even notice that one until I read it back.) If you look back at the figures, the per capita intake of pure alcohol during the years of the US alcohol prohibition actually increased from the period before.

    When looking at papers and research released by organisations, the motivations should be examined and agendas considered behind those releases. Especially when it comes to statistics - that are third in line after lies and damned lies - and very especially when the wording is carefully crafted.

    Heather, do you have a source for that initial report that you heard about the 21yo male? Also any citation of the 1000's of other similar cases in Melbourne?

  5. Bbox - brilliant comments The source of the comment regarding the 21yo is persoanl experience. He IS 21, he DID lose his job, he DID lose his licence, and he IS currently sitting at home drinking. It's been 2 weeks and he's already selling assets to accomodate the cost of drinking.

    The 1000's, I'm one person - I know of serveral people who have achohol problems, similiar but not as several as the 21yo. So If know 4, then looking across the youth of Australia, coomon sense tells me that there MUST be 1000's, when you look at the populations numbers. Some state are worse than others.

    The attitude of 20yrs is correct, I'm a little **cough** older than that, and certainly noticed a decline in common sense, in fact it is one thing, that I often comment about.

    And regarding the common dominator and lower all standards to that level, it happens in schools, it happens in the work place, it happene everywhere, Not just with laws

    BBox, thank-you for the comment, very insightful and certainly food for thought!