21 April 2014

Teenage binge-drinking

You might have been forgiven for missing this programme  (https://www.itv.com/itvplayer/tonight/series-19/episode-11-britain-s-young-drinkers-tonightwhich ) which was quietly slipped into the TV schedules just before Easter on Maundy Thursday.  It was not exactly well advertised and not exactly fun-viewing on the evening leading up to the long Easter weekend. But definitely well worth seeing.

For me, its contents were nothing new. I know enough from Kay and her friends about the format teenage nights out after school or at uni take. The pre-drinks at home where vast quantities of alcohol are drunk to get you well in the mood before you go out, including drinking games with forfeits and dares. Then afterwards the actual night out in clubs and bars, where the drinks are on ridiculously low offers (particularly midweek to draw the punters in). A pound a shot or 12 for £10. It doesn't take much maths to work out they're going to be well over their recommended daily intake of units within the first couple of hours, let alone by 4am when they start to roll home.

When you are young, nothing touches you, nothing fazes you. You can't imagine being old, infirm, riddled with cancer or affected by liver disease. That's for oldies or someone else. Smoking/taking drugs/drinking alcohol can look cool and win brownie points with your mates. Which is why this programme helped to confront some of the youngsters about the dangers of excess drinking. How one evening's drinking can definitely impair the liver.  Whether they'll actually learn from it is another thing, but while the drinks are easily available and as cheap as chips, you can't blame them for experimenting. The liver is a marvellous organ which has the ability like no other human organ to recover from damage. But there comes a time after repeated damage when it can no longer recover and will go into serious decline and failure.

The government are not keen to raise alcohol prices or limit availability because they rely on the taxes it brings in. Others will recite freedom of choice as a reason to keep the status quo. It's down to us as adults to guide our kids, explain the dangers and just hope they wont be another statistic. Liver damage has increased 40% in the last decade and more so in the younger generation, whereas it was always regarded as an older person's disease. Concerns over your fluffy four-year-old grazing their knee are swapped for concerns your equally fluffy 14-year-old will be drinking cider behind the bike-shed or your adult 24-year-old might be drinking 28 shots of Jaegermeister bombs or vodka in one night. Fortunately Kay is reasonably sensible and has watched her father die of alcoholic liver disease. Not a pretty sight. But even she is under peer-pressure and has admitted that being the only sober or semi-sober one in a whole group of zombies on a night out is not that much fun, so on rare occasions she sometimes pushes the limits.

Meanwhile, it's been lovely having Kay home for Easter, although it hasn't been long enough by far. Because she is still on hospital placements, it has meant she could only get a week off for Easter. With a day at either end taken up with her driving down each way, we have effectively only had from Good Friday until tomorrow, but it has been lovely. Girlie shopping trips to Bluewater, lazy evenings chewing the cud, good wholesome home cooking, catching up with London friends. Absolute bliss.


the veg artist said...

I saw this programme. Nothing in it surprised me, but it did make me feel as though I had grown up on a different planet. Have they no sense?

K Ville said...

I'm so worried that my daughter is at the start of this journey. You understand. I can't put my feelings into words.

Good to have Kay home for a while.

Nota Bene said...

The Boy is well down the road of over-indulgence...his eighteenth birthday party was spoilt by it in truth. I still don't understand the mind set of getting drunk BEFORE they head out for an evening...to the extent that some don't even make the evening out...

Glad you had a lovely Easter with Kay

Dan the Mountain Man said...

I'm glad Kay was able to come home for a couple days for Easter.

I stayed away from drinking until after 21 because of my father's drinking. Having the picture of my father being drunk in my mind helped me deal with the peer-pressure when it came to drinking alcohol. I did not want to be an alcoholic like my father.

Flowerpot said...

I haven't been watching much TV recently. But glad you had some special time with Kay.

Robert said...

Hi Addy - long time!! And thank you for your help last year (tempus fugit).

Things are still v busy with me, hardly any spare time. It's good to see that you still see Kay often. I'm lucky that only one of my childen lives far away, so I see them often.

Only one of my (4) adult daughters drinks much, and she does it a lot less than she used to, when she was a party animal. The others passed through their binge drinking period and rarely drink at all now.

I've had basal cell carcinoma and have had successful treatment for it, so I can asure you - no worries there.

Ah well, I'll pop in again in the not too distant future. Best wishes from me.