In recent weeks, more than ever, the focus has been on young people who make large bottles and go to macro parties mainly due to the spread of Covid-19 infections that lead to alcohol intake and the relaxation of established prevention measures . Far from accusations or critical arguments towards this type of behavior, it is also necessary to ask whether young people have the leisure they want and what alternatives are offered to this type of stay.
According to Juan María González Anleo, researcher at the Observatory of Youth in Ibero-America and professor at ESIC, both city councils and the Government offer sports, gastronomic … proposals for free time, «but the problem is that alcohol is culturally closely associated with fun. It is ‘the option’ par excellence, the one that young people have in mind to have a good time ».
She explains that in the classes she teaches to her students, she jokingly comments “I know that you are going to the opera this Friday, your partner to a museum and the other to a classical music concert.” “Everyone laughs in unison and says a long ‘nooooo!’ Then I comment to them, ‘you still go to a bottle at night’, and between applause they say: ‘yes! This little joke is a clear demonstration that structurally they have leisure alternatives but not culturally. That is, they are too internalized that having drinks is the way to have fun. It is like a ritual and they do not leave there ».
According to this expert it is necessary to change this mentality in our society, which recognizes that it is not an easy task. However, «to begin with, parents must instill in their children hobbies from a young age such as reading, writing, playing an instrument … The approach of going out at night and consuming is, in short, exhausting and not very rich in terms of personal contribution. If they have a hobby, in addition to feeling more fulfilled, they will have the responsibility of not going to bed so late and doing it in better conditions to perform the next day in something that excites them.
He acknowledges that trying not to drink is a utopia, “but not a chimera.” It clarifies that there are hobbies that may seem boring, but it is enough to give young people the opportunity to know them to begin to gain attractiveness. The problem, in his opinion, is that they are used to the culture of effortlessness, “and what costs a minimum dedication is immediately rejected.”
However, regarding the activities carried out in free time, this expert indicates that there is a trend towards a greater presence of technological leisure in the domestic sphere and an increase in relationships with their peers in activities that not only include night outings, but also also shopping, food, sports …
Eulalia Alemany, technical director of the FAD, also agrees that adolescents have very integrated alcohol consumption in celebrations and parties. “They act by imitating what they see in their environment, in the media and on social networks, in which lately, due to the issue of contagion, they do nothing but come out images of bottles and macro parties …”.
To prevent this type of behavior, Eulalia Alemany also points out that the family should be the first to offer leisure alternatives. “In addition, it is important that parents are aware of their children’s friendships, although it may be complex at these ages. A protection factor is that young people have several groups of friends (those from school, those from the neighborhood, those who practice sports …) to be able to motivate them to relate more with the gang that has better habits and behavior ”.
However, the FAD directive points out that it would also be convenient to ask what a 16-year-old is doing in the wee hours of the morning on the street. “Many parents feel lost in this matter and let their young children out for fear that they will be left out of a group of friends.”
It also recommends that parents do more activities with their children in which there is no alcohol intake, since during confinement their consumption has been reduced while family ties have been strengthened. “It is an opportunity to show them that without drinking there is also fun,” he points out.
This expert stresses that the educational system should raise awareness about this issue and proposes that the different municipalities put the facilities such as libraries, leisure centers, sports, theaters … available to young people with attractive programs without involving an economic effort, so that access is facilitated.
Finally, he adds that from the autonomous communities and the Government, “more awareness campaigns should be launched to report on what harms alcohol consumption, as was done with tobacco in its day. «You have to make a change of mentality. It is urgent because alcohol consumption is a public health problem».