The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has warned of the devastating consequences of harmful drinking and urged students to take care of themselves and their friends.
Its president, Prof Frank Murray, said: “Unfortunately every year as a result of these celebrations, we see many young people admitted to hospitals with a range of injuries, some of which can be catastrophic, as a result of harmful drinking.
“Injuries acquired as a result of road traffic accidents, trips, fights, falls, and head injuries can be very serious, or, indeed, fatal.
“It is important that young people who consume alcohol drink in a safe way. It is also essential that where someone gets ill or is hurt that they seek medical assistance for them as quickly as possible.
“We all want people to celebrate their success and to go on to lead healthy and successful lives in whatever direction they take next.”
Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, is encouraging parents to talk to their children about the risks associated with alcohol.
Chief executive Suzanne Costello said: “It’s natural that young people receiving their Leaving Cert results want to go out and celebrate with their friends. This is an important milestone for them and they should enjoy the celebrations.
“Getting the Leaving Cert results can be an emotional and, for some, stressful time, particularly for those who may not have done quite as well as they had hoped. If you add alcohol into the mix this can make an already challenging situation even more difficult.”
Alcohol Action Ireland is urging parents to play their part in ensuring their children stay safe and well.
Ms Costello said: “Parents must recognise that their child may end up in situations in which they may feel unwell, uncomfortable, or scared as a result of either their own or other people’s drinking.
“We are urging parents to talk openly with their children about what their plans are for the evening.
“It is also important to let your child know they can call home without fear of recrimination if they feel unsafe or unwell at any point. They need to know that, as parents, while you may not be happy with the fact they may have been drinking, or how much they drank, their safety is your priority and that they are to contact you immediately if they are in trouble.”
More than one in four of those attending emergency departments have alcohol- related injuries and almost half are people aged under 30.
Alcohol is a factor in one in four traumatic brain injuries. It is also a factor in 80% of cases of assaulted patients admitted to neurosurgery units.