The North West Alcohol Forum say that while exam pressure is over, there may be a new pressure brewing with Leaving Cert Results celebrations.

Many young people will experience increased pressure to drink this week as the Leaving Cert Results are announced on Wednesday. There are simple things young people, their parents and pubs, clubs and off licences can do to reduce the risks to health and wellbeing that come with alcohol.

If pre-parties are being planned at home, parents also need to be aware of their responsibilities and the law.

Alcohol Forum advises parents to be aware of these four things if you are hosting a pre-party in your home:

  • Even in a private residence, the legal drinking age is 18.  Alcohol cannot be served to a person under 18 unless you personally have the explicit consent of their parent or legal guardian and only if it is in a private residence, like your home.  That means, if you are serving or supplying alcohol, you need to know the age of each young person there and have had a conversation with their parent or guardian.
  • Not everyone will want to drink.  By having non-alcoholic alternatives available and visible at the party, you can support them in that decision.  Juices, soft drinks, non-alcoholic beers, or mocktails (if you’re getting fancy) are all great choices for non-drinkers and drinkers alike.  
  • Always have bottles or jugs of water out for people.
  • Always serve some food like pizza, burgers, cocktail sausages etc.  
  • Agree with your son or daughter what the rules are for the party well in advance.

Students themselves can plan to party safely and think about what they will do if they get into difficulties.  Parents can help by talking to them about their plans and listening to any concerns.

The management and staff of licenced and off-licenced premises have very clear responsibilities when serving and selling alcohol, especially to younger drinkers, the forum warns.

Alcohol Forum have produced a one-page flyer for students with reminders of simple things they can do to party safely, whether they chose to drink or not.  The key message includes partying safely by knowing what you’re drinking and how it will affect you, including non-alcoholic drinks throughout your evening, knowing what to do if someone takes too much alcohol and making a plan to get home safely.

CEO of Alcohol Forum, Kieran Doherty’s advice for parents is clear.  “If your son or daughter is celebrating Leaving Cert Results this week, whether they drink or not, it is likely they will be around people who are drinking.  

“It’s important to talk to them about their plans for the day and evening and listen to any worries they might have.  

“One of the most useful things parents can do is reassure their son or daughter that it’s ok not to drink, and if they do drink, to know their limits and to stop drinking if they feel drunk.  After that, help them out with their plan and be sure they know that in an emergency they can call you, no matter what.”