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Alcohol & Young People

As a young person, it is likely that you may be tempted to try alcohol. Equally, it can also be difficult to resist the pressures to drink if you want to remain teetotal (not drinking any alcohol). If you do choose to drink alcohol, make sure you are informed, so that you can stay safe.

Drinking & the law: What age do I have to be to drink in a pub?

If you’re under 14 you can go into a pub that has a children’s certificate, but must be with an adult and stay in the garden or family room. You can’t drink alcohol.

If you’re under 16 you can go into a pub accompanied by an adult but cannot drink or buy alcohol.

If you’re 16 or 17 and accompanied by an adult you can drink (not buy) beer, wine and cider with a table meal (a table meal is defined as a meal not a snack). Otherwise it’s illegal for someone under 18 to drink alcohol in licensed premises.

Alcohol facts for young people – how alcohol can affect you:

* As children and young people’s bodies are often smaller than adults’ bodies, you are more susceptible to alcohol poisoning. This can lead to passing out, diarrhoea and vomiting.

* Alcohol kills brain cells. Drinking too much while your brain is still developing can cause long-term problems with memory and attention span. This could mean you fall behind at school and struggle to achieve your full potential.

* You may think only alcoholics get liver disease, but unfortunately this is not the case. Regularly drinking too much can increase a young person’s chance of damaging their liver. As there are no warning signs, you may not realise anything is wrong until the damage is very serious.

* With seven calories a gram, alcohol contains almost as many calories as pure fat, meaning drinking can make you put on weight. It is also dehydrates the body and can make your skin look pale and grey.

* As drinking impairs your judgement it can make you more likely to end up in risky situations. Alcohol affects your decision-making skills and lowers your inhibitions, meaning you might make decisions which you wouldn’t normally, such as having unprotected sex, getting in a fight, or walking home alone at night.

* 40% of young people have at some point experienced ‘cybershame’ which is the embarrassment caused by compromising photos being posted online. With it becoming more common for potential universities and employers to look at applicants’ Facebook and other social media profiles, photos of drunken behaviour are not the kind of thing you want them to stumble across.

Alcohol & Pregnancy

If you are an expectant young mum, and would like some guidance on the effects of alcohol during pregnancy (including help and advice on how to cut down on your drinking) you can download our information leaflet:
Alcohol & Pregnancy: Guidance for expectant mums

You can also visit Check The Facts – Alcohol & Pregnancy

Resources and Useful Websites:

If you want learn about alcohol and its effects on your body or behaviour, please visit Drink Aware. You can also use the alcohol calculator to add up how many units you actually drink: Unit calculator

Switch Bucks is an alcohol and drug service working with young people aged 10 – 18 (or 25 where appropriate) across Bucks.
Switch offers young people support and information, and helps them to develop life skills in order to make healthy choices around their alcohol and drug use.

Visit The Site for non-judgemental facts and advice on alcohol, drugs and legal highs. You can also find tips on safe drinking at: Safe Drinking: Tips to protect your body and mind and support for remaining tee-total

What is a Unit? For a quick and easy guide on how much alcohol makes up a unit, please click on the following link: What Is A Unit Anyway?