Galway Pioneers are spearheading a major drive to get young people to change their attitudes to drink amid growing concern over the level of alcohol consumption among this group.
The organisation, which is made up of people who abstain from alcohol, will visit schools as part of its efforts to highlight the need for a shift in attitudes, the complexity of addiction and the impact of alcohol abuse on both individuals and families.
A local spokesperson confirms it will be “ramping” up its efforts in Galway in a bid to encourage young people to stay away from alcohol until they are at least 18 years old.
“It has emerged that boozing by teenage girls in Galway is the worst in the country. Liam O’Loughlin of the Western Region Drug Task Force has stated that more girls are drinking as much as boys in the West of Ireland than in any other region.
“In societal terms we have moved from where drink was mainly used as a social lubricant, to now drinking with the objective of getting drunk. Pioneers want to challenge and change what at times can be an alcohol sodden environment in the country at large.”
The spokesperson outlines that nationally alcohol misuse is a significant factor in the increasing incidence of street and domestic violence, rising suicide rates and ever growing levels of depression among younger and older people.
Parents can be effective role models for their children by having a responsible attitude to alcohol, according to the organisation.
“To that end every parent has to reflect on his or her relationship with alcohol. Equally they should listen, listen, and listen in a mature, helpful way to what their teenagers have to tell them about their curiosity or indeed their dabbling in drink.
“Finally they should tell them that the longer the introduction of alcohol is postponed, the healthier and safer they are likely to be in later life.”
It stresses that while Pioneers abstain from alcohol, they are not against it in itself; they see it as “a gift from God to be used prudently and consumed in moderation”.
In the past as many as one in three adults were Pioneers. This represented about a quarter of a million in a much smaller population. Today the figure is about 100,000 in a bigger population.
“The vision of the Pioneers - based on the love in the heart of Christ, as expressed in the G0ospels - is to help to build a society where people can live to their full potential and alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation.”