No Magic Goat

I recently saw this really interesting website for youth that came out of Nova Scotia.  It very cleverly shows all the upside imagery to alcohol but then goes on to show the reality of overindulgence. Rather than explaining it, I ask you to check it out for yourself

I think in many ways it can pertain to all of us, not just youth. While binge drinking is generally associated with the young, and we usually think of youth being most affected by advertising and other forms of messaging, doesn’t marketing and the culture we live in affect all of us? 

Drinking is associated with being fun, sexy, funny, popular, athletic, glamorous or virtually anything you want to be.  There is an ad for every personality type, even the couch potatoes and armchair quarterbacks!  No matter who or what you are, the alcohol companies tell you that you can be who or what you want to be, just crack open an alcoholic beverage and pour. 

Consequence free living – wouldn’t that be great.  Where is that magic goat when you need it?  Its great to enjoy a beer on the pier or at the backyard BBQ with friends.  Just don’t expect a goat to come to the rescue.  Be your own goat!  Even an old goat can learn a lesson or two!

Do as I do

So, you’re old enough to have a child heading off to university or college for the first time. And you’re probably young enough to remember your own early experiences with alcohol – and you may be pretty worried.

Our children learn by example – your example. What have you been showing them about drinking alcohol?

The CCSA recently introduced the low risk alcohol drinking guidelines to help people make smart and healthy decisions about their alcohol consumption. Drinking beyond these guidelines can do more than just get you drunk – it can put you at risk of developing a chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers.

Does that make you think a little differently about binge drinking, which is defined as:

• consuming 5 or more drinks on one occasion for men
• consuming 4 or more drinks on one occasion for women

So now you know the risks. What will you be showing your Frosh kids about alcohol?

Ladies Night

After a week of work, kids and endless chores, Ladies Night seems a perfect remedy.  It could be once a week, once a month or once a year.  Phone a few girlfriends, pick a place and get ready.   The night starts with a few beverages, some small talk, an interesting revelation or two … and then the dancing begins. 

Dancing the night away seems like a great remedy to stress and irritation.  The best part is that it’s exercising without even noticing.  The drinks could loosen up  inhibitions and bring our insides out, sometimes physically as well as figuratively – try to keep strapped in!  No harm done, we’re just there for the dancing, aren’t we? 

Honestly, we are often there merely to dance and escape from the real world for a while … so then, why the alcohol?   Well, a few Cosmopolitans might bring a sense of freedom, numbness or liberation that allows many of us to flaunt our stuff.  What’s the big deal?  Well, sometimes you get more than you bargained for…

Some nights of ‘just going out dancing’ end in unplanned sex (desired or not), pregnancy or a troublesome infection – can you say ‘chlamydia’?  Research shows just the thought of being more relaxed and sexually uninhibited with a few drinks is enough to change behaviour and can lead to unprotected sexual encounters.

Ladies night is an evening to hang out with good friends and let loose, but it might help to space out the drinks, pack protection, and decide on limits ahead of time.

by Kim Derdall RN

Driving Solo

It’s kind of like the first time that you got to drive without your Mom or Dad sitting beside you in the passenger seat telling you to slow down. You know that feeling as you start up the car and back out of the driveway … and realize that you are all alone? You think that you can go wherever you want at a speed that suits you … but if you drive reckless, there will be consequences.

As your new Frosh heads off to college or university for the first time, it is like they are driving solo. There is no one in the passenger seat telling them that they have an essay due the next day and so they shouldn’t go out to the campus pub. They may not have the peer support group that they had at high school either. 

How do you prepare your child for this whole new experience when they think they know everything? It’s much the same as the steps you took when you taught them how to drive. Role modeling plays a huge part with our children, whether its how we drive or how we drink. Is it time to look at your own alcohol consumption?

Alcohol and Caffeine: What’s the buzz?

While coffee-based cocktails have been around a long time, the emergence of energy drinks in the late 1990’s has added a new dimension to the caffeinated alcoholic beverage phenomena. Energy drinks are marketed to provide a burst of energy and/or enhance alertness. They are affordable, convenient, sweet tasting and contain large amounts of caffeine that mix easily into cocktails. Energy drinks are also advertised in connection with extreme sports, hot babes, and are often given away on college campuses. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, especially if you are a young person looking to party until the sun comes up.

So what’s the down side to this buzz? With caffeinated alcoholic drinks, the caffeine fools you into thinking you are not as drunk as you really are. The caffeine also keeps you awake longer, which gives you more time to continue drinking. This increases your risk of getting hurt, overdosing on alcohol, being sexually assaulted, or doing something you might regret, like driving drunk, getting into a fight, or sexually assaulting someone else.

Hmm…. Definitely something to think about, AND to talk about with the young people in your life.

Leah Simon, RN

But (s)he’s only 17!

So, your recent Grade 12 grad is packing up their entire bedroom and moving into residence for their first year of postsecondary education. An exciting time for them and for you. That is, until you start to read about Frosh Week and what type of activities are planned! Pub crawl? Frosh pit? Beer tent? Kegger? But they’re only 17!

The reality is, with Grade 13 being eliminated more than five years ago, most high school students who graduate from grade 12 are underage when they head off to college or university. The legal drinking age for alcohol in Ontario is 19 – so how are postsecondary schools handling this? It is a good question to ask the school your child will be attending, but as a parent you can also play a crucial role in preparing them.

What kinds of situations might they face in the coming weeks? How are they going to handle it? What supports can you provide them long distance? Even if you’ve never talked to your child about alcohol and drugs, now is the time to start a conversation and to keep up the dialogue even after they’ve moved away.

What’s the real message in “drink responsibly”?

The alcohol industry has an interesting “social responsibility” campaign called Drink Responsibly. But what does “responsibly” mean when it comes to drinking alcohol? I wonder just what they are really trying to sell us.

Sure, the idea of drinking responsibly sounds good, but what is the real message? First, the message is telling you to drink, even though not drinking is a responsible choice.  Second, trying to find the message in an alcohol ad is like trying to find Waldo.  And third, the message can be branded right into the ads.

From what I can see, the ads are selling everything many people may want and more.  Drinking certain brands can make you fun, sexy, social, glamorous, or successful.  Some brands will even make you skinny. Who knew? Everything you want to be, all in a bottle, and all you need to do is drink it…responsibly of course. 

Sounds like a great solution to all of life’s problems! Responsible advertising or gimmick? Tell us what you think.