St Patrick’s Day is a great opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends. However, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding young people that if they choose to drink, there are serious risks with over-indulging and binge drinking, so setting a limit on alcohol intake is important.
Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief executive of PHA said: “The St Patrick’s Day’s carnival atmosphere should be enjoyed by everyone but with a lot of alcohol available, young people need to look after themselves and each other. Those who choose to drink need to be careful and keep within the safe limits.
“Young people are particularly vulnerable to the impacts and consequences of drinking too much alcohol, whether as victims of criminal assaults and accidents or through sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies. We are all personally responsible for our actions and this includes moderating excessive drinking habits, for our own benefit and for that of our communities.
“Parents also have an important role in talking to their young people about alcohol. By discussing the risks of drinking, parents can have a positive impact on young people’s attitudes towards alcohol and help prevent their child developing problems with alcohol in later life.
“I would also urge retailers to be responsible about the quantities of alcohol they sell, the promotions they carry and to ensure that they continue checking the age of young people attempting to purchase alcohol at this very busy time of year.”
For information for adults on alcohol, go to www.knowyourlimits.info The PHA’s booklet You, your child and alcohol has more information on talking to your child about drinking. This is available from GP surgeries, pharmacies and the ‘Publications’ section of the PHA website: www.publichealth.hscni.net
Contact PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.
Notes to the editor
1. Daily alcohol limits are recommended by government in order to avoid the health and social risks of excessive and binge drinking in any one session. These recommended limits are:
• Men: It is recommended that men drink no more than three to four units of alcohol a day (ie two pints of standard beer) and no more than 21 units over the course of the week.
• Women: It is recommended that women drink no more than two to three units of alcohol a day (ie a 175ml glass of wine) and no more than 14 units over the course of the week.
• Remember, that for each unit you drink over the daily limit, the risk to your health increases. It's important to spread the units throughout the week – you shouldn’t ‘save up’ your units for the weekend or a special occasion.
• Pregnant women or women trying to conceive should avoid drinking alcohol. If they do choose to drink, to minimise the risk to the baby they should not drink more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week and should not get drunk.
• Alcohol is usually measured in units. Many bottles of wine, beer and ready-mixed drinks have the units marked on the label.
2. Tips on talking to your child about alcohol:
• Make the first move and bring up the topic of alcohol. Don’t wait until there is a problem to talk.
• Take time to listen to what they have to say.
• Respect their views if you want the same in return.
• Discuss the risks associated with drinking alcohol.
• Discuss the possible consequences of their actions and support them to make the right choices.
• Assume your child doesn’t want to talk. Not talking to your child about alcohol could be interpreted as your approval of them drinking.
• Assume they already know everything.
• Interrupt or be judgmental, even if you don’t agree with their opinion.
3. For more tips on talking to your child about alcohol, go to: www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/you-your-child-and-alcohol
4. For support and advice for parents, contact the Parents’ Advice Centre confidential and free helpline on 0808 8010 722 or go to www.parentsadvicecentre.org
5. For information for adults on alcohol, go to www.knowyourlimits.info
6. Social Development Minister Alex Attwood and Health Minister Michael McGimpsey launched the14 week consultation on a minimum price for alcohol on 7th March. The two Ministers are advocating that the minimum price for a unit of alcohol should be between 40p and 70p. The exact minimum price will be determined following the outcome of consultation.