Some sensible thoughts to stop us losing to boozing
How old were you when you first had a few drinks?
There’s a good chance that by the time you turned 16 you would probably have had a few beers and/or plastic pillows of cask wine. Chances are you got it from either someone like a sibling who was of drinking age or your parents.
Well, it was reported yesterday that the NSW government is stepping up a push to change teenage drinking culture. Targeting adults.
Adults who supply alcohol to other people’s children would face up to a year’s jail under changes being pushed by Premier Barry O’Farrell, Fairfax reported.
It’s an interesting proposal. It’s just one move the state’s government is looking into to change youth drinking culture. There’s already been criticism that the move could unfairly criminalise parents who just got one of their kids’ friends a couple of beers.
The Punch Team are just about the furthest thing from wowsers. Drinking can be fun. It’s a social lubricant.
But at the same time, it’s understandable to see where New South Wales’ government is coming from. Each week, 70 Australians under 25 are hospitalised from alcohol-related assault. Four Australians under 25 die due to alcohol-related injuries in a week as well. Getting smashed can annihilate enough brain cells to leave young people with lasting damage.
We’re not sure of the merits of the O’Farrell government’s suggestion just yet, but we thought we’d chuck out a couple of thoughts that any government that takes action on alcohol abuse should ponder.
In the past, we’ve suggested that while you can’t force an old head on young shoulders, Australia could do with tackling some of the entrenched attitudes that exist around binge drinking.
Some of the truisms surrounding binge drinking should be confronted. Many people say “eating is cheating”. By cheating, it really means preventing yourself from coating your possessions in spew between in the AM hours. Peh. It might be fun getting a bit loose on the piss, but it’s really not when it’s your stomach fluid that has loosened and has forcefully exited your mouth.
How do you fight something like that? Our Lucy Kippist had some good ideas late last year after visiting a FARE (Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education) event:
Instead of the standard drink message on the back of bottles of beer and wine, labels could read: Did you eat before you left home? Are you hosting a party? Make sure you are serving food with drinks. Have you drunk a glass of water between drinks? How large is your wine glass? Are you feeling more tired than normal – just stick to light beer. And how about an advertising campaign to raise awareness about how long it takes for alcohol to leave your system after a big night out.
Advocates of drug decriminalisation often say it would be a lot safer if it was regulated. But if that were to ever happen, Australia’s problem with alcohol, particularly when it comes to beer barn culture, is an example of how not to do it.
That above solution, or at least something along those lines, is one advanced and non-wowserish way we could change that.
Another interesting point: according to a major drug study, in 2010 the proportion of 12 to 17 year olds who abstained from alcohol had increased. The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household report said:
The proportion of 12–15-year-olds and 16–17-year-olds abstaining from alcohol increased in 2010 (from 69.9% in 2007 to 77.2% and from 24.4% to 31.6%, respectively.
Wonder if they’ll stay that way. As anyone who has been involved in Dry July or Sober October or one of those months knows, abstaining for a long time is trying. But could we be seeing the rise of a small group of people who are straying away from alcohol altogether?
Maybe they’ll have the brain cells left to think of some big fixes.
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