WDHB appeals to young people to drink sensibly
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9 May 2016

With this year’s ball season fast approaching, the Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) is appealing to young people to be careful when drinking alcohol – that doing so can cause short, and in some circumstances, long-term harm.

WDHB health promotion officer Chester Penaflor says he strongly supports the national Health Promotion Agency’s message that for young people under 18 years of age, choosing to not drink alcohol is the safest option.

It’s a message also endorsed by the Cancer Society of New Zealand which says evidence shows that because alcohol use can cause cancer, young people who wish to drink should delay doing so until they are 18 or over.

“According to the Ministry of Health, the rate of hazardous drinking among drinkers aged 15 to 17 years in 2011-12 was 21 percent and one in five (19 percent)  New Zealanders aged 15 years or more who drank alcohol in the past year now have a potentially hazardous drinking pattern,” Mr Penaflor says.

“Evidence shows that drinking alcohol at a young age can cause harm to the developing brain because a person’s brain is still developing until the age of 25 years old.  Drinking alcohol at this age may result in developing learning difficulties, memory problems, mental health issues and other problems later in life such as alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency problems.”

Mr Penaflor says the relationship between young people and alcohol is strongly influenced by New Zealand’s drinking culture which normalises heavy alcohol use. On the plus side, he says there are things adults can do to help reduce the impact that alcohol has on teenagers.

 “We know that what we do as parents, how we communicate our expectations and whether we supply alcohol does influence our children’s choices,” Mr Penaflor says.

“If you do decide to provide alcohol, make sure that they are actively supervised, substantial food is offered, low or no alcohol beverages are available and transportation is arranged.

“As parents, we all want what’s best for our children.  It’s time to break the cycle.  No alcohol for under -18s is the safest choice”.

The Health Promotion Agency has a website for those wanting information on alcohol and young people or contact Mr Penaflor on 348 3150 to discuss the possibility of his providing a presentation on this topic.