St. Patrick’s Day has traditionally been a day of celebration as people, young and old, take to the streets adorned in various shades of green, and kids make drawings of leprechauns and talk about finding pots of gold. We have fun turning our food and libations bright green.  

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!  

We all know that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations include consumption of alcohol. An increase in binge drinking in particular is expected, and your kids are watching – or they could be participating.

Binge drinking is defined by the U.S. Department of Health Services Surgeon General as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks during a single occasion for men, four or more drinks during a single occasion for women.  According to the California Healthy Kids Survey for Sacramento County (2009-11), 13% of 9th graders and 18% of 11th graders reported binge drinking in the past 30 days. The Center for Disease Control reported that one in five high school girls (compared to one in eight women) binge drink, increasing risk for breast cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted infections, and unintended pregnancy.

The Sacramento County Department of Health & Human Services reports that the effects of alcohol on the brain depress inhibitions and reaction times.  Teens that are already prone to risk-taking behaviors increase them even more when alcohol has been consumed. This early onset of alcohol use, the frequency of drinking behavior and binge drinking establishes patterns early in life that may lead to significant health and behavioral health concerns, and other harmful consequences.

So how do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and what traditions are you demonstrating for your kids?

Knowledge of the risks and consequences of binge drinking for teens or adults can best be communicated by family members. Contrary to popular belief, kids do listen to their parents.  More importantly, they observe the behaviors of their parents.  If they see you consuming large amounts of green beer to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, that “tradition” will be ingrained in their memory and they may not wait until they are adults to replicate your behavior.

So, celebrate being “Irish for a Day” by watching parades, making green pancakes, and looking for that pot of gold.  And be aware that your little leprechauns are following your lead.

Take a look at these Mocktails from Modern Mom that are tailored for St. Patty’s Day.

If you have concerns about a member of your family, including a teen or even younger, that may have lost control when it comes to consumption of alcohol or drugs, call the NCADD Sacramento Hopeline at (916) 922-5122. We are available 24/7 and can provide you with accurate information on available resources in the Sacramento Region, and you will receive a free one-hour consultation for you or your family.