Responsible drinking starts from knowing what you drink.
The subject about learners in Primary and High school consuming alcohol can be taboo in South Africa. Avoiding the subject due to it sensitive nature is not a viable solution either. Therefore Tag My School Magazine will not avoid it.
In our previous discussion we talked about the lack of education which has played a huge role in teenage abuse of alcohol. We also talked about the reaction among community members which in most cases can be viewed as “self-righteous” and in denial of the root cause of the problem.
Therefore we decided to face the truth with regards to alcohol. And that truth is: alcohol will always be part of our lives until curtains close. Condemning the usage of alcohol by teenagers, abuse of alcohol by parents and selling of alcohol to children under the age 18 is like pouring water on the back of a duck (it makes no difference).
Do you remember the Nation’s campaign that encouraged parents to openly talk to their children about sex? We need a similar campaign with alcohol and here is why:
A 2017 study showed that 60% of SA teenagers have been drunk; and those who started drinking before the age of 15 are four times likelier to become alcoholics; while the average age of experimentation in SA is 12, it has been discovered that it is decreasing. I think it’s time we have a conversation.
Education on responsible drinking is key.
The alcohol bar and standard is designed, packaged, signed, sealed and delivered from home to teenagers by adults without knowledge of the activity they partake in. The outcome of their uneducated drinking action is destruction of lives.
Why you should know more about alcohol and who cares? Answer is because knowledge is power and those who love you as well as your victims’ loved ones do care. Kids watching you are learning from you how to drink.
What is alcohol?
- Alcohol is any drink that contains a chemical called ethanol/ethyl.
- All drinks go through a fermentation process (a natural digestion of sugars found in fruits, grains and other starches).
- Fermentation results in two substances namely Ethanol and Carbon Dioxide.
- Ethanol is the alcohol people drink, however there are other types of alcohols which are very dangerous and cannot be consumed.
- Any yeast and source of sugar can produce alcohol.
- Ethanol can also be found in non-alcoholic drinks such as juices. In fact some beers, wines and spirits are non-alcoholic even though the taste is the same as the alcoholic drinks; the difference is the amount of ethanol present. Non-alcoholic drinks have very little levels of ethanol.
Types of alcohols.
- Denatured: ethanol that has ingredients added to make it unfit to drink.
- Fuel Grade: ethanol that has dangerous impurities and should never be consumed.
- Ethanol (C2H60): that’s the alcohol in beverages called alcohol, this is what people drink.
- Isopropyl (C3H80): alcohol used as solvent or fuel. It is used for cleaning but toxic for drinking.
- Methanol (CH30H): also known as “wood alcohol”, it is highly toxic; used as an anti-freeze.
Why do people drink?
There may be various reasons why people drink, however there are two main reasons namely:
- To cope with stress
- And for social influence
People do not have complete understanding of their psychological, social and environmental factors affecting their behavior; therefore motives for drinking may vary between drinking to enhance sociability, to increase power, to escape problems or just to get drunk.
Other people use alcohol to avoid unpleasant emotions. While others use it to celebrate social occasions and to have a good time.
What is responsible drinking?
Many people drink alcohol without understanding and thus miss out on enjoying the activity.
Responsible drinking means that you plan where and when to drink, how much to drink and who will be driving. In simple terms it means you never have to feel sorry for what happens while you were drinking!
Step 1: Know your limit.
- never lose control of yourself. If you were to record a video of yourself drunk and watch it while sober, would you be proud of what you see?
Step2: Eat foods high in protein while drinking.
- foods such as cheese and peanuts are high in protein therefore slows the absorption of alcohol into the blood system.
Step3: Don’t gulp your drink.
- rather sip your in drink so that you don’t lose the pleasure of drinking, the taste and the smell of alcohol. Reckless drinking result in reckless outcome.
Step4: Cultivate taste. Choose quality over quantity.
- learn the art of drinking. Appreciate the creativity behind the making of that bottle. Be elegant in your drinking.
Step5: It’s okay to skip a drink at a party.
- have a non-alcoholic drink in between drinks to lower your blood alcohol concentration level.
Step6: Drinking must improve social relationships not destroy them.
- alcohol must not be the focus in your gathering but an adjunct to your activity. Alcohol does not have the power to destroy your life and lives of those you love, you do; assume that power back through responsible drinking.
Step7: ensure that you have a designated driver
- never get behind the wheel when you were drinking; have someone designated to drive everybody home.
Step8: never drink during school hours
- remember that there is a difference between the now and the future; what happens in between is the consequences of your choices.
There has been a lot of messages telling you to not drink and why drinking is bad for you. It is safe to assume that those messages have often fallen on deaf ears. Human race is the most rebellious and defiant race; therefore “thy shall not” will not work. Education will. I hope that you and your parents can sit down and start a conversation based on this article. Teachers please do start a start a conversation in class.
Telling teenagers how bad drinking is; yet society glorifies through smart advertising and PR, is unwise. Rather let us educate young people so that they can be empowered to be responsible enough not to drink; but should they decide to, it will be responsible drinking.