Exam Results – Talking To Young People About Alcohol

Alcohol Guidance / Family Health

With young people set to receive their exam results, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging parents and guardians to talk to them now about risks of drinking alcohol and taking drugs.

Thousands of teenagers will receive their A-level and GCSE results over the next week and often following these occasions we can see excessive drinking or drug taking, so it is important that everyone is aware of the risks, even those who have drunk alcohol or taken drugs previously.

Kevin Bailey, Regional Lead for Drugs and Alcohol at the PHA, said: “Parents can make the first move and talk honestly and openly about the dangers of binge drinking and encourage young people to have fun with friends without alcohol or drugs.

“If you are talking to someone who is of the legal drinking age, encourage them to take care if they choose to drink. Staying within the safer drinking limits is important, as excessive drinking can have lasting effects on health, such as damage to the liver, heart, brain and stomach. Warn them of the dangers of mixing alcohol and other drugs.

“Parents’ attitudes and behaviours in relation to alcohol and drugs have a strong influence on young people so take that step to talk about it openly.”

Helpful tips for parents/guardians:


  • Make the first move and bring up the topic of alcohol. Don’t wait until there’s a problem before you decide to talk.
  • Take time to listen to what young people have to say.
  • Respect their views if you want the same in return.
  • Discuss the risks associated with drinking alcohol.
  • Discuss possible consequences of their actions and support them to make the right choices.
  • Think about your own drinking and the influence this can have on young people’s' behaviour.


  • Assume young people don’t want to talk. Not talking to them about alcohol could be interpreted as your approval of them drinking.
  • Assume they already know everything.
  • Interrupt or be judgemental, even if you don’t agree with their opinion.

There are more handy tips on talking to young people about drinking in the booklet ‘You, your child and alcohol’, which is available from GP surgeries, pharmacies and online at www.pha.site/YourChildandAlcohol and a range of additional information on www.DrugsAndAlcoholNI.info

Kevin continued: “Drugs can also be used around this time and misusing drugs can cause serious damage to your health and even death. You can never be sure what has gone into the drugs, therefore the PHA strongly recommends that you do not take them.

“Parents and guardians can play an important role in helping young people understand these risks, so they don’t choose to take drugs without realising the harm they could be exposing themselves to. If someone has taken drugs and is feeling unwell, please seek medical help urgently.”

Results time can also have an impact on young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Kevin said: “Not getting the grades they hoped for can result in feeling anxious or low. Disappointment is an understandable reaction, however it is also important not to neglect the possible impact of this stress on mental and emotional wellbeing.

“Parents and guardians are urged to look out for behaviour or feelings that could indicate that their young people are showing signs of stress. More information on looking after mental health and the support available in Northern Ireland can be found at www.MindingYourHead.info

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