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Why underage drinking can be so harmful… 

by Nadia Laws 

Nearly half of Bermuda’s young people admit to having their first alcoholic beverage before age 18.

While this may seem harmless enough, it’s actually a big concern, according to the Department of National Drug Control. 

Kimwana Eve, the Community Development Coordinator, said: “We know from research that those who start drinking and smoking at an early age are far more likely to use harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin, which have the propensity for addiction. One of our department’s missions in drug prevention, is to prevent substance use among young people before it starts. 

“If they can hold off until at least the legal age of 18 or preferably until age 25, when the rational part of the brain is fully developed, then their chances of becoming addicted as an adult are slim.” 

Alcohol is very accessible in Bermuda, especially during holiday periods as the population is in full celebration mode. This poses a huge challenge for the department in its efforts to deter underage drinking. 

“We know what adults do, good or bad, children are always following our example,” Mrs Eve said. “That’s why we encourage parents to not consume a lot of alcohol around their children and to be mindful about where they are storing their alcoholic beverages. We tell parents to keep these drinks out of arm’s reach of children and teenagers, so not in front of the fridge or at the top of a cooler where a 15-year-old may go to grab a drink.” 

The department also encourages adults to drink responsibly and in moderation. 

Instead of having five or six drinks, one after the other, with the goal of getting drunk, people should learn to pace themselves. The golden rule when it comes to drinking is simple: no more than one alcoholic beverage per hour. 

“Once the alcohol is in your bloodstream there’s nothing you can do, it just has to make its way out on its own,” Mrs Eve said. “That’s why anyone who consumes several drinks in an hour will quickly find themselves over the legal alcohol limit and mustn’t ever get behind the wheel of a car or bike where they can cause harm to themselves or others.”

Drinking alcohol at the peak of summer can also increase a person’s chances of becoming dehydrated, which can be quite serious. If you’re planning on drinking over the Cup Match holiday, it’s wise to drink plenty of water or an electrolyte replacement solution. 

Also, make sure to keep an eye on your drink and who is pouring it, she warns. “Don’t leave your cup exposed or unattended,” Mrs Eve said. The department does hear of isolated instances where drinks get spiked, which is why partygoers should be aware of exactly what they’re consuming.  

Just like with everything in life, Mrs Eve says moderation is key. For anyone over 18, planning to drink during the Cup Match long weekend, do so responsibly. “We believe if people take proper precautions beforehand and act responsibly, they can have an even better time over Cup Match, without the hangover or other harmful side-effects.” 

This article was originally published in the 2019 edition of the RG Cup Match supplement.

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