Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Apologies for Good Intentions

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Apologies for Good Intentions

Article excerpt

Byline: Vanessa Marsh

THANK you Andrew for your sobering letter to your kids.

I was very moved. As you've said I could share it, I will, unabridged, unaltered in any way:

"Dear Melanie and Alicia and Adam,

I just wanted to say sorry!

I just didn't know.

You've each had your issues with alcohol and in some ways I now know that I was partly to blame. I handled it the way European families do, glass with meals and always at home, but I've just been reading new research on the impact of alcohol on the teenage brain and I'm shocked.

I didn't know -

* That parents had the most influence and were the most powerful and admired role models for teens in the 12-17 year age group - I thought your friends and peers were;

* That the risk of harm to you as teenagers in the form of violence, rape, criminal behaviour, car accidents, fights, loss of memory etc escalates with every drop of alcohol you drank;

* That alcohol is really a poison affecting every part of your body and killing six times more teenagers than all the other drugs combined;

* That the brain of the adolescent is so much more vulnerable than that of a parent - not just the frontal lobe, which is the self control centre of the brain, but also the amygdala which handles fear responses, and the hippocampus that handles memory.

No wonder teenagers on alcohol do so many risky and dangerous behaviours and get into so many fights and often have no memory of it all or the damage done;

* That the younger a person starts to drink alcohol the greater their chances of having long term problems with alcohol.

For instance a person starting to drink at age 13 or earlier has a 57% chance of having later problems if there are other problem drinkers in the family and a 26% chance even if there are no alcohol problems at home.

By contrast, a person starting to drink alcohol at age 20 has only a 16% likelihood of becoming a problem drinker even if there are other problem drinkers at home, and only 9% chance if there are no problem drinkers on the domestic front;

* That it's not just the alcohol content either that's the problem - the teen years are the formative years for attitudes and values for the rest of their adult life - so your acceptance of alcohol as part of your social outlook was implanted by me and will be retained for life. …

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