Underage drinking

January 01, 2020

Drinks Ireland is totally opposed to underage drinking and the misuse of alcohol associated with it. Our members strive to ensure that their products are aimed at an adult audience only. We take our responsibilities seriously and believe in a coordinated approach to tackling underage consumption.


Underage drinking stats
Underage drinking in Ireland has fallen in recent years according to the most recent survey by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The report found that 41% of adolescents in Ireland admitting having used alcohol in the previous month which were levels slightly below the European average. However, the report stated that 16% said they had become intoxicated in the previous month compared to the European average of 13%.

The EMCDDA shows that the general trend across Europe show the trend has been downward since a peak in 2003 and the lowest recorded level of binge drinking among European teenagers in over a decade.

In order to tackle underage drinking, the Irish drinks industry, society and those closest to children have an important role to play. For example education, the provision of alternative facilities for young people and parental responsibility are crucial.


RSA Programme
The drinks industry is already playing its part, through the Responsible Serving of Alcohol (RSA) programme which, among other goals, aims to prevent alcohol sales to those under 18. Almost 10,000 hotel, bar, nightclub and restaurant owners and staff have attended RSA training to date. The programme is delivered in the form of interactive workshops, using ‘real situations’ or case studies to help reinforce skills and encourage discussion among participants.

In tandem with efforts to reduce demand for alcohol from minors, the Government needs to enforce measures to prevent the sale of alcohol to those below the age of 18.


Alcohol education
Ultimately, responsibility for alcohol consumption lies with the individual and in the case of children, with the parents or guardian. Alcohol abuse by minors has greater potential for negative health effects, because of their early stage in physiological and emotional development. Research suggests that early heavy alcohol use by minors has increased negative and potentially long-term effects on certain brain regions and the skeletal system.

This further enforces the point that high risk categories, including young people, require particular attention. Information and education can play an important role in providing skills for responsible decision making in relation to drinking. Mass media and information campaigns – while not a solution in themselves – can play an important part in raising awareness on certain issues.


Drinkaware’s role

Drinkaware firmly believes that alcohol has no place in childhood and is committed to delaying the age of first drink in Ireland. Drinkaware has developed a number of resources for Parent’s to assist them in having conversations with the young person in their life about alcohol. The Drinkaware ‘Parents Hub’ on Drinkaware.ie is designed for parents to help better equip them to address issues around alcohol with their children. The hub enables parents to set examples, plan activities, dispel myths around drinking and provides a regular newsletter for parents on the latest developments concerning alcohol and education. Drinkaware also produces resources for parents as well as parents’ workshops which are available on request.