90% of teenagers have tried alcohol by 15 years of age
20% of teenagers regularly drink at harmful levels

A new DVD Your Shout will shortly be introduced into schools around Australia as a teaching aid to help staff discuss the impact drinking has on young people.

The DVD features teenagers talking about their experiences with alcohol. It will be used as a focal point to promote discussions about the harm drinking, especially ‘binge’ drinking; can have on young teenage brains that are still being formed.

A recent report by the Victorian Drug and Alcohol Prevention Council found that out of 5,000 16 to 24 years olds surveyed, more than 40% had consumed 20 or more standard drinks in one session in the past year.

Paul Dillon author of Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs and Generation Next speaker said “Alcohol, like any other drug taken in large amounts, can lead to an overdose situation. ‘Binge drinking’ or ‘drinking to get drunk’ is often the cause for alcohol poisoning, particularly among young people”.

Australian Drug Foundation national youth spokesman Joseph Borlagdan said ”As a nation, we have not succeeded in preventing young people binge drinking so there’s a need for new and innovative techniques to relate to the lives of teenagers.”

Professor Jon Currie, the director of addiction medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital, agreed that teenagers who binge drink are more likely to engage in danger activities while drunk. It is a vulnerable time for young people as the frontal cortex of their brain is still developing.

”Blackouts are very frequent in young people who drink heavily – that represents actual brain damage occurring and could have long-term problems associated with it.”

Prof Currie also suggested that binge drinking could increase the risk of developing mental health issues later, such as depression, and alcohol and drug dependence.

Janet Canny, the director of student welfare at St Kevin’s College in Toorak, said ”The perspective Your Shout gives is very real, so the boys relate to it,” she added ”We find the key message to get to our students is that drinking alcohol before your brain is fully formed will impact on your potential.”

Ms Canny concluded ”I just think that because alcohol has been around for so long, parents tend to be more frightened of illegal drugs that weren’t around when they were young. Some parents just aren’t aware of the potential alcohol has to impact on the development of the brain.”

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: The Age