Cornish Health Promotion Service urges parents to be aware of alcohol over Christmas

Falmouth Packet: Christmas is a time when drinking becomes prevalent Christmas is a time when drinking becomes prevalent

Cornwall Council's Health Promotion Service is urging parents to be aware of alcohol related issues at Christmas time, especially in regards to children.

The festive season is a time when there is likely to be an increased amount of alcohol available in the home, which means children may well see more bottles and cans than usual.

The Health Promotion Service said this can be a challenge for parents, with issues such as family and friends accidentally creating pressure for children to drink with them.

While the dangers of alcohol are well-known, for children and teenagers the risks are greater because of the greater variations in their physical sizes, and because their organs are still developing.  

Director of public health, Felicity Owen, said: "Evidence shows that young people who start drinking at an early age may risk drinking greater amounts, and drinking more often, than those who delay their first alcoholic drink. This advice from the Health Promotion Service is intended to give parents the confidence to keep their children safe from the risks of alcohol over the festive period."

Although it becomes a bigger issue at Christmas, the service said it is good practice for parents to talk to their children about alcohol at any time of year, along with a range of other issues. Children will need to realise that parents trust them to be sensible, even though visitors may have different attitudes towards alcohol.

It said some young people can be more inclined to take risks, and alcohol may further impair their judgement. This can lead to poor or out-of-character decision making, such as, walking home alone, getting into a fight, or having unprotected sex.

It may also have an impact on memory, reactions and attention span, which could affect a child's performance at school or prevent them reaching their full potential.

If children drink large amounts quickly on repeated occasions they risk maintaining this habit into adulthood, and harmful alcohol use in adults is related to an increased risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease and infertility.

There are more tips and advice on talking to children about alcohol on the Drinkaware website, and for local advice Addaction Cornwall can be contacted on 01872 263001.

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