Guidelines for Family
With drinking so common in our culture, even at a young age, it is important to have some guidelines. The best place for families to start in determining what their alcohol consumption policy is, is to set clear rules and expectations before any drink is poured.
1. Setting family expectations for acceptable behaviour
There is no one guideline that fits all here. It is important for you as a family to decide what is workable for you. Some families let young people have a drink with a meal or at home, others don’t. Once you have decided on your house rules, make sure everyone is aware of them and they are followed.
Important factors to think about:
- Who is allowed to drink in the family?
- Can underage members drink in the house or in the homes of other people?
- Can underage guests be invited to drink?
- What if someone consumes too much?
- What is the rule on driving or leaving the home once a young person has had alcohol?
2. What is a drink?
Without getting complicated a drink could be one beer, one glass of wine or one measure of a spirit. It is important to remember that a wine glass can be overfilled or a measure of a spirit rather over-judged, meaning that ‘one’ drink really has double the amount of alcohol in it. Make sure you educate young people on this, so they can control personally the amount of alcohol they consume.
3. What is considered binge drinking?
Binge drinking usually refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking with the purpose of getting drunk. The amount of alcohol required for this varies from person to person, and also depends on the length of time it is consumed in, as well as if it is accompanied by food or not. In my opinion, an example would be:
- Two glasses of wine drunk in half an hour with no food—binge drinking
- Two glasses of wine drunk over an evening with dinner—not binge drinking
This is an important differentiation because binge drinking has serious consequences and it is good to understand it.
4. Why shouldn’t young people drink?
Alcohol causes deaths in youths every year, either from excessive drinking, accompanied health problems or accidents caused by alcohol. It also is a cause of injury, and increases the risk for physical or sexual assault. Of course, regular drinking could affect school grades and could lead to problems with alcohol later in life.
5. How can families help their young people be responsible with alcohol?
- Talk openly about the dangers of alcohol consumption and set family guidelines at a young age.
- Be a positive role model for the young people in the family.
- If the family does allow young people to drink, then ensure there are specific guidelines.
- Have adult supervision when young people are consuming alcohol.
- Encourage kids to participate in healthy and fun activities that do not involve alcohol.
- Always pick up young people from parties if alcohol has been present; this reduces the risk of drink driving accidents considerably.
- Be open and non-judgemental with young people so they can talk to you if they are having problems with alcohol.
6. What to do if you see signs of alcohol abuse?
Alcohol abuse is better tackled earlier than later. Have a frank conversation with the young person and find out what really is going on. You may need to do some further alcohol education, there are also usually problems or issues that are being ‘handled’ with alcohol. Examples of this are not being able to dance, being shy, not feeling they have enough friends etc. It is good to work out a constructive way of dealing with these, otherwise, the youth may go back to resorting to alcohol fast.
If things have got out of hand then rehabilitation may be required. For any help regarding youth and alcohol, or more information on our alcohol rehabilitation programme, then contact us.