Exam booze warning

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Parents in Derry are being urged to talk to their children about the dangers of a post exam booze up.

As exams draw to a close, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is advising parents to be aware of how their children plan to celebrate, stressing the dangers of underage drinking and the importance of sticking to the limits, for those who have reached the legal age to drink.

Owen O’Neill, PHA Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager and Drugs and Alcohol Lead, said: “The end of term, exams and the freedom of the summer are generally reasons for celebration.

“We want parents to discuss with their child or young person the serious consequences of underage drinking, or, if the young person is of the legal drinking age, encourage them to take care if they choose to drink.

“Remind them it is possible to have a good time without drinking alcohol and if they drink, to do so in moderation.

“Excessive and underage drinking can increase the risk of accidents and antisocial behaviour, as well as sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.

“Even if a young person is old enough to drink, staying within the safe drinking limits is important, as excessive drinking can have lasting effects on health, such as damage to the liver, heart, brain and stomach. Parents have a role to play, even with their young adults.”

He said parents should make the first move and “talk openly about the dangers of binge drinking.”

The PHA says parents and young people should be aware that drinking, even at age 15 or older, can be hazardous to health and that not drinking is the healthiest option for young people.

They say that if 15 to 17 year olds do consume alcohol, they should do so infrequently and certainly on no more than one day a week.

More advice is available in the booklet ‘You, your child and alcohol’, which is available from GP surgeries, pharmacies and online at www.publichealthagency.org