The public Italian way to prevent alcohol related problems


The Italian Government during October and November 2007 produced some information for parents about the abuse of alcohol.

It is called »Guide per genitori e ragazzi«, that’s »Manual for parents and youngsters«. These documents are distributed through internet and through the newsletter service the government activated some years ago.

Hereafter you can find a translation of the presentation in which it’s possible to understand something about the present Italian situation about Alcohol and Youth and the government position. It’s interesting to note that in this brief presentation of the flyers (kind of vademecum) they used the verb »abuse« instead of »use«.

Even more there’s something to say about the flyers the government, together with some doctors, prepared to be downloaded and distributed both to parents and to youngsters below 16 (but it’s not said by who the material can be distributed and it seems that this activity is disconnected from schools or other sources that could distribute the material).

The papers are prepared with some information about the alcohol as chemical element, its effects on the body and why a 16-year-old should not drink alcohol at least as soon as he’s 18/20. According to this flyer, the body can’t metabolize the alcohol before 18–20 y.o. and for this reason drinking before 16 can be very dangerous for the body!

Now, beside the fact of the layout of the flyer that won’t be picked up or considered in any way (and this may be an advantage), what’s the use of this flyer? It says that one shouldn’t drink before 18, while the Italian law forbids to sell alcohol to teens below 16, but don’t say anything about what alcohol causes whether you are 16 or 35! It generally says that (…) (alcohol) can produce effects (not damages a.e.) on the central neural system, and more in general, on the whole body with possibilities of alcohol intoxication like loose of coordination, reduction of lucidity, decrease of memory, slow down of reflexes, or also faints or future damages (…)

Abuse of Alcohol: a manual for parents and youngsters

Drinking alcoholic beverages at an age under 16 can have effects on the central nervous system and on the whole body. It does not exist a »safe« quantity so to consume alcohol: it’s possible to talk about quantities of a low risk, but risks exists at any level of consumption. The use of alcohol is often seen by the youngsters as a ritual with the aim to create contacts and allow much easier interactions: briefly, to feel like adults. But the abuse of alcohol can be the spy of some beneath psychopathologic conditions, and therefore to forbid the use of alcoholic beverages to a teenager creates the risk of a »boomerang« effect getting a different outcome. These are just few of the suggestions you can find in the manual, for parents and youngsters, on the abuse of alcohol, realized by the doctors of the hospital »Ospedale Bambino Gesù di Roma«.

Drinking more alcoholic beverages especially during weekends is a new consumption style, more often widespread between young people and, according to the WHO, it’s even rising. The manual offers to parents suggestions on how recognize the »signals of alarm«, in order to face the thing with the sons (e.g. talking with them about the label of the alcoholic drinks they are attracted to, and explaining them what’s the alcohol gradation.

posted by Ermanno Passalenti