STAFF REPORTER
RECOGNISING that excess alcohol consumption is increasingly affecting not just the drinker but those in his or her immediate circle, the Balearic government is preparing a “Plan of Action” not just to deal with the most visible effects of abuse, but also to put damaged lives back on track. “It's an important public health problem which affects the addict, those around him and society at large.” This is the description of alcoholism as presented by regional drug dependency co-ordinator, Elena Tejera. She also expressed government concerns about young people drinking in circumstances where alcohol and tobacco are combined with cannabis and possibly other drugs. Terjera said it is as though drinking alcohol has become some sort of “rite of passage” that young people have to go through. It has reached the point where if a young person doesn't drink at a party, he or she is considered strange.” Wanting to address the situation at source, the government wants to introduce educational campaigns into infant and primary schools to urge youngsters not to think that drinking alcohol is “normal”. The programme will focus on encouraging youngsters to take decisions on their own, without falling prey to peer pressure. Tejera claimed that many young people start drinking and smoking not because they want to, but because they see their companions doing so and want to be “part of the crowd.” Anti-alcohol education will depend on the age of groups being counselled. In Infant school, such a campaign will focus on healthy habits while primary school children will be encouraged not to even try alcohol at all. At secondary school level, attention will be centred on making your own decision about what is right or wrong and being “true to your own feelings” as opposed to those of a group mentality.

For older students, in an age group where consumption is statistically at its highest, emphasis will be on the damage that alcohol consumption can do, either on its own or in conjunction with other toxic substances such as tobacco, cannabis and other drugs. Education will be given on what course to take to ensure reduction of intake.

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