Young people, social networking and alcohol: A significant challenge to public health and the church community?

Adrian BonnerPresented by Professor Adrian Bonner, Salvation Army

705,000 children living with dependant drinkers – from needing detox, to providing hope. Study of mental health needs of homeless indicates significant alcohol problems. Personality disorders often come from early childhood. Many using homeless services had negative childhood experiences. Alcohol in family home has significant effect. WHO are looking at harm reduction policies.

Looking at Global Data, alcohol represents the 9th mortality factor in global population, if adjusted into risk factors, it becomes 3rd in disability risk and is the 1st in Eastern European countries.

Bible of Alcohol policy: Alcohol No Ordinary Commodity. This addresses Pricing, Tax, Availability, Environment, Drink Driving, Marketing Restrictions.

Alcohol is more affordable now – hence minimum pricing debate. Scottish Parliament agreed a pricing policy but is being challenged. Off license sales are increasing, pubs closing, staying in is new going out, more alcohol in family home.

In times of austerity, people spend more on alcohol and less on quality food. There is risk of alcohol fuelled domestic violence: 54,000 per year in London. Poor nutrition reduces micro nutrients and affects adolescent brain.

Cognitive dysfunction and dementia are more prevalent amongst those with highest drinking rates.

Alcohol and young people: Local newspapers report horrific stories of young people with alcohol problem. 2.5 million live with hazardous drinkers. 100 per week call childline re drinking parents.

Underage drinking, binge drinking, risks of consequences, drinking games,

The Internet – industry is aware of it’s significance. It can triple growth if move advertising spend into digital space. Why focus on Internet if not aiming at young people? Bacardi focuses on Facebook. Digital social media indicates that 98% traffic is user generated not from advertising.

Diageo – planting sea containers across the world as sites for parties. Powerful forces, financially controlled, corrupts data. Self regulation – will it work? They claim to be socially responsible, but target youngsters eg. alcopops

European Alcohol Forum challenges this situation. But industry will protect bottom line. Alcohol should have no role in regulating industry.

Alcohol and Internet review with University of Roehampton. Gerard Hastings, Social Marketing. Develop Alcohol Policy Young Persons Network

Role of Church in alcohol policy? How can alcohol harm be reduced? Young people need to be made aware. Do children have to see adverts on internet? Can they remove adverts? Get young people to get involved to mentor young people. Power of peer acceptance is huge, in both inner city area and middle class. Digital divide no longer exists.

Does the Church understand children? Some children in families of alcoholics may have predisposition to addiction affect of alcohol.

Reach out to the young people. Street Pastors has a positive influence.


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