Responsible drinking starts with knowing what you are drinking.
The subject of alcohol consumption by primary and secondary school students can be taboo in South Africa. Avoiding the topic because of its sensitive nature is also not a viable solution. Therefore, Tag My School Magazine will not avoid the topic.
In our previous discussion, we talked about the lack of education that has played a major role in youth alcohol abuse. We also talked about the reaction of community members, which in most cases can be seen as “self-righteous” and a denial of the root cause of the problem.
Therefore, we have decided to face the truth regarding alcohol. And that truth is: alcohol will always be a part of our lives until the curtains close. To condemn the consumption of alcohol by young people, the abuse of alcohol by parents, and the sale of alcohol to children under 18 is like pouring water on the back of a duck (it makes no difference).
A 2017 study showed that 60% of SA teenagers have been drunk; and those who started drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics; while the average age for experimentation at SA is 12, it was found to be dropping. I think it’s time we had a conversation.
Education on responsible drinking is key.
The alcohol bar and standard is designed, packaged, signed, sealed, and delivered from home to youth by adults who have no idea of the activity in which they participate. The result of their unenlightened drinking behaviour is the destruction of lives.
Why should you know more about alcohol and who cares? The answer is that knowledge is power and those who love you, as well as your victims’ loved ones, care. Children who watch you learn from you how to drink.
What is alcohol?
- Alcohol is any beverage that contains a chemical called ethanol/ethyl.
- All beverages go through a fermentation process (a natural digestion of sugars found in fruits, grains, and other starches).
- Fermentation produces two substances, ethanol and carbon dioxide.
- Ethanol is the alcohol that people drink, but there are other types of alcohol that are very dangerous and should not be consumed.
- Any yeast or sugar source can produce alcohol.
Types of alcohols.
- Denatured: ethanol to which components have been added that render it undrinkable.
- Fuel Grade: ethanol that contains hazardous impurities and should not be consumed.
- Ethanol (C2H60): This is the alcohol in beverages called alcohol, which is what people drink.
- Isopropyl (C3H80): Alcohol used as a solvent or fuel. It is used for cleaning, but is toxic to drink.
- Methanol (CH30H): also known as “wood alcohol,” is highly toxic; used as an antifreeze.
Why do people drink?
There may be different reasons why people drink, but there are two main reasons, namely:
- To cope with stress,
- And to gain social influence.
People do not have a complete understanding of the psychological, social, and environmental factors that influence their behavior; therefore, their motives for drinking may vary: They drink to improve sociability, to increase their power, to escape problems, or simply to get drunk.
Other people use alcohol to avoid unpleasant feelings. Others use it to celebrate social occasions and enjoy themselves.
What is responsible drinking?
Many people drink alcohol without realising it, missing out on the pleasure of the activity.
Responsible drinking means planning where and when to drink, how much to drink, and who will be driving. Simply put, it means never being sorry if something happens while you were drinking!
Step 1: Know your limit.
- Never lose control of yourself. If you took a video of yourself drunk and watched it sober, would you be proud of what you saw?
Step2: Eat foods high in protein while drinking.
- Foods such as cheese and peanuts are rich in protein and therefore slow the absorption of alcohol into the blood system.
Step3: Don’t gulp your drink.
- Rather, sip your drink so that you don’t lose the pleasure of drinking, the taste and smell of alcohol. Careless drinking leads to careless results.
Step4: It’s okay to skip a drink at a party.
- Drink a non-alcoholic beverage in between to lower your blood alcohol level.
Step5: Drinking must improve social relationships not destroy them.
- Alcohol must not be the focus of your gathering, but a complement to your activity. Alcohol does not have the power to destroy your life and the lives of those you love, but you do; take that power back by drinking responsibly.
Step6: ensure that you have a designated driver
- Never get behind the wheel when you have been drinking; have someone designated to drive everyone home.
Step7: never drink during school hours
- Remember that there is a difference between now and the future; what happens in between are the consequences of your decisions.
There are many messages that tell you not to drink and why drinking is bad for you. It is safe to assume that these messages have often fallen on deaf ears. The human race is the most rebellious and defiant race; therefore, “thou shalt not” will not work. Education will. I hope you can sit down with your parents and start a conversation based on this article. Teachers, please start a conversation in class.
It is unwise to tell teens how bad alcohol consumption is, while society glamorises it through intelligent advertising and PR. Rather, we should educate young people so that they are responsible enough not to drink; however, if they do decide to drink, it will be responsible drinking.