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.
The Health Service Executive
The Health Service Executive has a range of information on alcohol and drugs available at www.askaboutalcohol.ie. In addition, the following publications have been developed for parents and guardians on alcohol, drugs and young people: