Alcohol charity urges parents to talk to teens about exam celebration plans

Onus on alcohol retailers not to sell drink to under-age teens

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, is urging parents of the country ’s 55,000 Leaving Cert students to talk with their children about celebratory plans ahead of their results being released this Wednesday morning.

Charity Director Fiona Ryan said:  “The Leaving Cert can be a very emotional time for those getting results  – even for those who do well – and adding alcohol into an emotional mix can bring its own challenges, as alcohol increases emotional volatility and impacts on ability to make decisions.

 “We would encourage parents to ask students how they ’re feeling about their results and to discuss with them their plans for the evening and to find out if these plans involve drinking or not, who they are going with and how they are going to get home. All of these are routine questions parents ask but exam celebrations for a lot of teenagers can be a departure from what they would normally do. It is also worth reminding them that if they do choose to drink and find themselves in difficulties it is better they contact home immediately rather than worry about the repercussions of their drinking. ”

Ms Ryan said that while the number of teenagers who drank had experienced a small decrease, when they do drink Irish teenagers tend to drink more than their European counterparts. The recent European School Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) survey found that young people in Ireland have a particular problem with binge drinking as average alcohol consumption on the last drinking day among Irish teenagers was 6.7cl of pure alcohol, compared with 5.1cl across the rest of Europe.

Ms Ryan also pointed to issues around access and availability:  “We know from what teenagers tell us themselves that the vast majority, 84%, have no problem getting access to alcohol. Cheap widely available alcohol where a young person can get drunk for  €10 is not helping the situation either and we know that young people are highly aware of priced-based special promotions. A quarter of 15 and 16-year-olds have purchased alcohol from an off-license or supermarket while 37% have been served in a pub or nightclub.

 “There is a real and immediate obligation on alcohol retailers  – pubs, nightclubs, supermarkets and off-licenses – to ensure that they are not selling alcohol to underage drinkers. At the same time, there is an onus on the Government when it returns this autumn to move forward with the Alcohol Action Plan. ”

Parents who would like to find out more information on talking to their children about drinking can read more in the Alcohol and You section of

For further information or comment please contact Alcohol Action Ireland Communications Officer Conor Cullen on 01-878 0610 or 087-7530576.