SPECIAL REPORT: Having the Alcohol Discussion.

Talking to your teenager about alcohol consumption and the potential dangers associated with it can be tricky and overwhelming. However, no matter how difficult this conversation may be, it is an important one to have in order to ensure the safety of our young people.

The legal drinking age in New Zealand is 18 years, however this does not deter some adolescents from experimenting with alcohol. Health experts say that young people are at greater risk of alcohol-related harm than adults as it increases the risk of damage to their developing brain. It is a substance that affects their body, behaviour and decision-making abilities, highlighting the importance of preventing or limiting your teenager’s alcohol use.

End of school and the impending festive season may be a cause for celebration for many teenagers ready to party and wanting to put this year behind them. However, the impact of the pandemic has experts concerned that these celebrations may involve excessive alcohol consumption and result in risky behaviour. Parent and carers can help minimise these risks by influencing sensible drinking habits. It is important to outline the rules and boundaries around age-appropriate alcohol consumption and what the legal implications may be. Although many teenagers are fully aware of the dangers, they put more value on the reward than adults.

Start the conversation today. Parents and carers need to educate their children on when, where and how to drink responsibly.

If you require further guidance or information, contact the NZ Drug Foundation Helpline on 0800 787 797 for free confidential support.