New campaign highlights impact of alcohol on developing brain
8 February 2024
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has launched a new campaign in South-Eastern New South Wales, encouraging parents not to supply alcohol to their children, to help keep them and their developing brains healthy and safe from harm.
The ‘Keep Their Future Bright’ campaign is funded by COORDINARE -South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network, as part of steps to reduce risky alcohol use in the local community.
“Sadly, we know that many locals drink at levels that pose short-term and long-term risks of harm to their health. Concerningly, our region also has some of the highest rates of alcohol-related hospitalisations across the state,” said COORDINARE Chief Executive Officer, Prue Buist.
“We want our community to be a healthy and safe place for everyone to live. The less alcohol people drink, the healthier our community becomes and reduces the risk of serious health issues such as accidents, injuries, dependence, liver disease and cancer,” she added.
The new campaign highlights that even in small amounts, alcohol can damage the development of cells inside the adolescent brain.
“Adolescence is a time of big physical changes and drinking alcohol, even in small amounts, can impact the developing brain. The effects can include things like finding schoolwork harder, to having trouble processing emotions or performing at their chosen sport,” said the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s CEO, Dr Erin Lalor AM.
The campaign emphasises the important role parents can play in setting their kids up for a healthy future.
“Parents are always learning and growing, especially when it comes to new information about keeping their kids healthy and safe,” Dr Lalor said.
“Thankfully, there are proven ways parents can help keep young people healthy and safe. This includes having open conversations with their children about alcohol and its effects, where they may be exposed to alcohol, what they can do if they feel pressured to drink, and letting them know they can always turn to you for help no matter what situation they find themselves in,” Dr Lalor explained.
“Everyone has a different approach to parenting, but most parents choose not to give alcohol to their underage children. Not supplying alcohol and explaining the reasons why, can help keep your child healthy and safe.”
Dr Lalor also cautioned parents about the alcohol industry’s sneaky social media marketing and product designs, that target young people.
“We want young people to enjoy themselves, while staying safe and healthy. Yet the alcohol industry uses sneaky marketing tactics that portray drinking as necessary to relax or to have fun. Parents can help their kids resist these messages, by showing them that they can have fun without alcohol. When kids know they can socialise without alcohol, they can grow up to make healthier choices about drinking,” Dr Lalor said.
“By setting a positive example and keeping your relationships strong, it’s more likely that your children will delay their drinking and drink less when they do.”
“Knowing what to say to a young people about alcohol can be challenging, but having these conversations is really important. There is lots of help and support available for parents on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s website, including facts around alcohol, conversation guides, and where to get help if you or a loved one needs it,” Dr Lalor added.
Bega resident and Father of three, Dennis Scott, said his parents were positive role models around alcohol, and now he also has open conversations around alcohol with his own children.
“I believe having open and honest conversations with children about alcohol, it’s effects and the dangers is the most important thing you can do. I’ve done this with my kids, and my nieces and nephews, from a young age,” Mr Scott said.
“We all do things when we’re young, and as a parent, we want to protect our children from dangerous situations, so letting them know they can call you for help in any situation is crucial, he said.
For more information about the ‘Keep Their Future Bright’ campaign, people can visit: adf.org.au/teens