Talk to them about what a standard drink is and why there are recommended limits.
Explain to them that:
- different drinks have different strengths
- it's hard to judge the amount of alcohol in mixed drinks and drinks that other people give them
- a small number of drinks can affect judgement - especially if they drink a lot in a short space of time
- sweet-tasting drinks like alcopops don't taste like alcohol and are easy to drink
Looking after their friends
Talking about other people helps to make your child aware of their own safety too.
Things they can do to look after their friends
- Keep an eye on friends at a party - don't let them do something they might regret.
- If a friend drinks too much, it can be dangerous to let them sleep it off - they may be unconscious.
- Try not to let friends take risks or go off on their own if they are drunk or high - this can lead to accidents.
- If one of their friends is out of control, make sure they don't drink any more alcohol or they may go unconscious.
At the same time, let them know they don’t need to fix a friend’s problems. If they think a friend is in trouble, they should always look for help from an adult.
Help them to understand about alcohol poisoning and drug effects and what to do.
Some things don't help once a drug or alcohol is in the bloodstream, including:
- drinking black coffee
- getting fresh air
- taking a cold shower
Getting home safely
Be available to pick them up or insist on picking them up, depending on their age. You could also pre-book a taxi at the time they are due to leave.
Warn them not to drive after drinking or taking drugs. They should never take a lift with someone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Have a back-up plan for when a designated driver ends up drinking or taking drugs.
Tell them to:
- never leave a party or club alone
- never let their friends go alone
- stay in groups of 3 or more
- be aware of the dangers of walking home under the influence, especially on poorly lit roads
Mixing drink and drugs
Mixing alcohol and drugs, including prescription medication, can have unpredictable or dangerous effects.
Mixing prescription drugs with other drugs or alcohol can stop them from working.
Spiking drinks is rare, but these are some things people can do to reduce the risk.
Never leave a drink where it could be spiked. Do not share, steal drinks or take drinks from strangers.
Tell them to watch how much they drink so they will notice anyone messing with their drink.
They should never leave a friend who is acting strangely, in case their drink has been spiked.
Adding more alcohol is the most common substance used to spike drinks.
Tell them to get help straight away if they feel strange and suspect their drink has been spiked.
Staying safe sexually
Being under the influence means they may not be able to:
- judge how safe a situation is
- 'read' the other person’s feelings
Even if someone seems willing to get intimate, they may not know what they are doing. They may not be able to say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ if they have taken drugs or too much alcohol.
Getting into trouble with the Gardaí
It’s illegal for under 18s to buy alcohol or to pretend to be 18 to buy it.
A criminal record can exclude you from some jobs. For some offences, it can prevent you from travelling abroad.