Young people and alcohol

They're small and sweet. And yet not at all harmless. We're talking about the alcopops. Since they came to the European market ten years ago, their popularity and popularity has flourished. Especially among children and young people. Because due to its sweet fruity taste, alcohol is barely noticeable. For example, young people who don't like a bitter beer or hard liquor will be sweetened when they drink alcohol.

And that is bitter: alcohol has a much more destructive effect on children and adolescents than on adults. But let's take it in order.

What are alcopops?

The name is made up of Alko - an abbreviation for alcohol and Pop - a colloquial English term for lemonade. So an alcopop is an alcohol-lemonade. We know enough about such mixtures: A cyclist is a mixture of beer and lemonade. For the "Berliner Weisse", a dash of raspberry or woodruff syrup is added to the beer. And for a Campari orange, the bitter Campari is filled with plenty of fruity orange juice.

What's new about the alcopops is that they are already available ready mixed at petrol stations, supermarkets, discos and bars. What is also new is that the advertising and presentation should reach children and adolescents in a targeted way. So the "little coward" looks at you with big eyes childlike and faithful. Almost like a cuddly toy you want to love. The unpleasant aftertaste lies because a good dash of fig extract has been added to the vodka from which the little coward is made: So the hard drink is easy to drink.

Marketing strategists are pursuing a different but successful strategy for the Rigo drink. On their homepage you get access to a sizzling erotic club atmosphere in the style of the seventies. The taste of young people. But without the right drink - with Cola and a decent rum - nothing works at all, so the message on the homepage.

Now imagine an adolescent: On the one hand, a child with all the need for security and warmth. But on the way to adulthood, burdened with many uncertainties and fears of threshold. Advertising for the alcopops addresses the emotional needs and uncertainties of young people. And then she promises quick help. It's very simple: "With the right drink and a little alcohol, you lose your fears and become part of it." The success of alcopops is therefore not surprising. One could even say: the advertising departments of these companies know the young people well.

Further strategies for alcopops look like this: For example, music and sporting events are promoted in the name of the respective brand. Thus, young people have the feeling that the drinks were made for them. This is a trick to enter the youth scene: Adolescents can drink alcohol like adults, but they can differentiate themselves from them by the choice of products. Many young people also show they belong to a certain group through the alcopop brand.

Why are alcopops so dangerous? I'm sure you're wondering. The answer: They contain an average of five to six percent alcohol, but the sweet taste does not make them taste good. This is why many people consume the alcopops as if they were thirst-quenching drinks. They fail to recognise the dangers of alcohol.

Alcohol is very harmful for a teenager. The adolescent brain is even more capable of learning than the adult. This means that young people get used to alcohol. The danger of addiction is great. Alcopops can be an introduction to regular and excessive alcohol consumption.

According to statements by young people, three bottles are not worth mentioning during a disco visit. But that already corresponds to about half a litre of wine. And it's not the three alcoholic drinks per evening. This has been shown by a recent representative survey of 12 to 25-year-olds. According to this study, 43 percent of male youths and 25 percent of female youths have drunk at least five or more alcoholic beverages in a row in the last 30 days. Now the step to intoxication or coma drinking is not far away. The most modern expression for this is "binge-drinking". This means that the drunkenness does not arise by mistake, but was the goal of drinking. The 16 to 19-year-olds are the most frequent and regular. In chat rooms they confess that they need this on weekends to release a little pressure.

Early entry into addiction has serious consequences for children and adolescents: For example, high doses of alcohol can delay puberty and bone growth and reduce bone hardness. And the late effects of alcohol as a poison for nerves and the internal organs occur earlier if one drinks alcohol at an early age.

What can you do to keep your child away from alcohol?

Prohibitions are rarely used. It helps if you take the young people earnestly. Talk about the subject, but also take a critical look at your own drinking habits.

Educate children and adolescents about the mechanisms of alcopops. Explain to them how much alcohol they contain and think about why the alcohol is covered.

Talk to the young people about their fears, without being seen as outsiders. Put a strong opinion against it. Like so: Whoever needs alcopops is in fact uncertain.

Set up consumption rules together with the young people.

Also talk to salespeople when they sell alcoholic drinks to young people under 16 years of age, which they may not do. Alcopops are covered by the Youth Protection Act.

Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany