Irish Bishops Drugs Initiative, News archive 2007

Bishops launch DVD for schools “Find the balance – Dare to dream” on the theme of alcohol and moderation

PRESS RELEASE

15th November 2007

Bishops launch DVD for schools “Find the balance – Dare to dream”

 

“We need to break, once and for all, the link between sport and advertising alcohol … with the same
vigour and determination as the effort to remove advertising for tobacco from sports” – Archbishop Brady

“Alcohol is not someone else’s problem, it is a national problem” – Archbishop Martin

Today in Tallaght Community School in Dublin, Cardinal-elect Archbishop Seán Brady, Archbishop of Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Bishop Éamonn Walsh of the Bishops’ Drugs and Alcohol Initiative launched a DVD for secondary schools Find the Balance, Dare to Dream to 150 students, staff, public representatives and members of the media. This DVD has been distributed to all post-primary schools on the island.

Launch the DVD Archbishop Brady said: “To the young people of Tallaght Community School and elsewhere I want to say, first of all, that this DVD is about you. You are all young, bright individuals whose unique gifts are going to be of great benefit to yourselves and to society at large. This DVD is about your right to dream. To dream about the exciting, positive opportunities that lie ahead for you and your friends. It is about your right to live a happy and healthy life. Yes, a life full of fun and excitement but also a life full of meaning and purpose. This is the balance which protects your dreams and keeps you free from slavery of addiction.

“I am aware of the Young Social Innovators Programme in Tallaght Community School. I am told that it is very successful. It has already set a new standard in helping young people address the issue of drugs and other forms of substance abuse. I congratulate you on that success.

“The core message of this DVD is that to be happy in life – we need a balance in life. To be really happy we need self-control as well as self-determination. Above all, you need self respect. You need a sense of your own dignity and of your own worth. We cannot believe in a God who loves, if we don’t, first of all, love ourselves. Every human being is a child of God – Jesus came to tell us that. This sense of our own dignity – of our own worth – is one of our most precious possessions.

“Public representatives have the heavy responsibility of dealing with the consequences of the abuse of alcohol in society both at a constituency level and at a legislative level. I know that each one of you share the concern of the Bishops and others in society about this matter. I thank you for your support here today and for the work that each of you has done to address this issue in policy and legislation. I assure you that the Church will continue to pastorally support those in need of help with problems – either directly or indirectly – arising from alcohol abuse. I believe that the best way to address this issue is through people working together with public representatives, church community leaders, Health Workers, Social Workers, teachers, parents, families and young people.

“One of the great myths in our culture today is the belief that you can only be happy when you can do what you want, when you want, as you want. This is simply not true. The message of this DVD, is also the message of Jesus and His Church.

“Could I respectfully suggest the following should become priorities for us all:

  • Building supportive caring communities. Churches have a key role in helping to bring this about. Supportive communities offer the best bulwark against social isolation and many of the other problems which flow from, or contribute to, the abuse of alcohol.
  • Making heavy drinking, binge drinking and drunkenness as anti-social as we have made many other things which destroy our health and environment like smoking and drink-driving. We need to invest similar amounts of money and energy, and have the same types of advertising campaigns as we had about the effects of smoking and the effects of not eating properly, and the dangers of speeding and drink-driving. Our culture of heavy drinking is the elephant in the room which we need to confront with collective and concerted action. The health and reputation of our country is at stake. Our young people deserve nothing less.
  • We need to break, once and for all, the link between sport and advertising alcohol. We need to do it with the same vigour and determination as the effort to remove advertising for tobacco from sports. The stakes are high. The quality of life of whole families and communities is what is at risk.

Archbishop Martin said: “we have a national alcohol problem, an alcohol problem deeply imbedded in parts of our Irish culture. Alcohol abuse is not someone else’s problem; it is a national problem, a problem for us all.

“Dublin Diocesan Teen Counselling in their annual report published earlier this year noted how, on the advice of young people themselves, the service had to revise its questionnaire about drink. In a question to teenagers “How often have you felt drunk”? a range of answers from “never” to “9-10 times” had to be revised two years ago to include “11-15 times”; “16-20 times” and “more”.

“They also had to add in questions for young teenagers asking them if they had ever drunk so much that they 1, got sick; 2, passed out and 3, had to be hospitalised. They were questioning people from 13 years upwards.

“Their findings for last year included the following:

  • 78% of those who had taken drink reported having been drunk, some before leaving national school; with the 13-15 years period the most significant for starting to drink and get drunk.
  • 29% of those who said they had been drunk, were drunk more than 20 times.
  • 21% had drunk until they passed out.
  • 8% were admitted to hospital

These are not statistics of which we can be proud. Where are the roots of our drinking problem? Why are we different from other Europeans? I am not going to address that question today. What is important today is to affirm together that these statistics have to be overcome. We have to break this cycle of destruction on our society. We have to become clear on the fact that alcohol makes you happy for a deceptive, very brief moment. The hangover of alcohol is not just yours, it brings suffering and misery to many others. It is only when we break this cycle of destruction on our society that we will be a much happier society.”

Bishop Éamonn Walsh noted that this was the first occasion when a pastoral letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference was applied to an audio-visual format in the form of a DVD. The pastoral letter Alcohol: The Challenge of Moderation was published in February this year to coincide with Lent and is available in English, Irish and Polish on www.catholicbishops.ie.

Bishop Walsh thanked Tallaght Community School students and staff for their support with today’s media launch of the DVD, and especially the school Principal, Mr Pat Coffey and Fr Paul Hampson. Bishop Walsh also thanked Kairos for producing the DVD; The Radharc Trust for its sponsorhip and specifically board member Mr Peter Dunn; the Irish Bishops’ Drugs and Alcohol Initiative; Ms Maura Hyland, Director of Veritas, for its support regarding the DVD’s publicity and distribution to schools throughout the country; and, Mr Brendan O’Reilly, Director of the National Office for Catechetics, for his work on the teachers’ notes that accompany the DVD.

ENDS

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Kathy Tynan Communications Officer (086 817 5674)

    

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