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Scratching the surface of our ‘alcoholising’ youth habits

Your editorial (May 17) on the recent UCD research probing the ‘alcoholising’ habits of Irish youth, suggests that it “should inform future policy both on mental health and the sale of alcohol”.

This is, of course, a valid enough observational advisory, but it merely scratches the surface of the root of the problem.

Addressing only the end-point of the issue reminds one of the paltry response to societal crime being firmly fixated on apprehension, conviction and imprisonment.

The dysfunctional seeds of the problem are perennially crying out for redress, authentic attention and sustained support. This is not a novel idea, but it never truly happens.

Young people, (sadly, some very young) don’t just drink because they simply love getting ‘out-of-their-tree’, ‘bombed’, or the many other euphemistic labels which attach themselves to harmful drinking patterns.

There are a vast swathe of factors contributing to their need, urge, or inclination to harm themselves thus, and it’s these underlying contributors which urgently need to be addressed.

They won’t, of course, because there are too many overriding vested interests at play.

Low self-esteem, a sense of failure, a perceived pressure to ‘hyper-perform’ don’t essentially come from within, in the first instance.

They are borne in the broad breeze of familial, communal, societal distortions, with related dysfunctions and disproportionate expectations, where hyper-competition, relentless and pervasive advertising and ‘celebrity-addiction’ are peddled endlessly by all the adult powers that be, both statutory and private enterprise.

Vacuous sound-bites, and venereal gloss rule the roost the pressure to have ‘things’, to communicate incessantly in virtuality domains, to aspire for shallow celebrity via a myriad of media options and web-based illusions all coalesce to exert a steamroller of shallow worthlessness shrouded in the fallacy of supposed ‘success’.

The universal corporatisation of needless need and superfluous excess is thus almost complete. Individual survival is not at all a core consideration in the gushing rush towards profiteering, racketeering and ‘manipuleering’.

Despite the recessionary grim, we can all still commit to renew the meitheal spirit of share and care, banishing these patently false gods of plenty and promotional overkill.

Sober happiness in youth is still viable. If only we could stop and share ...

Jim Cosgrove


Co Waterford


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