Should We Be Encouraging Alcohol Culture in Teenagers with Mocktails?

Enabling is a big part of keeping addicts sick. If we offer underage kids a mocktail, or a drink that doesn’t have any alcohol in it, but resembles a drink that does, are we essentially sending the message that drinking is okay, and in some ways enabling experimentation with alcohol?

Tatler, one of the most well-known British magazines, is hosting an event, a ball, that will serve non-alcoholic drinks to teenagers, aged 13 to 16. Hosted at a nightclub in Notting Hill, the event will allow the invitees to dress up, party until 12:30am, and mingle with the cast of Made in Chelsea.

The free refreshments being offered are still being finalized, but are said to be the Zing Fling, a cola and lime concoction, and Sunshine on the Beach, a fizzy orange and lemonade with lots of fruit and mint.

The Whistle Stop, one bar in Rotherham, is owned by Kara Chapman. She thinks that providing these mocktails to teenagers offers temperance drinks, or the alcohol-free solution to a night out.

Kara says that when they opened The Whistle Shop, “We targeted the older generation, who we thought would be nostalgic about temperance drinks such as ginger beer and cream soda, so we were shocked at how many young people have been coming in. Teenagers celebrating summer balls at two nearby colleges have made calling in here part of the end-of-term experience.”

Is the easy availability of mocktails, near-beers, and temperance drinks teaching responsible drinking or opening a while can of worms? Are we sending the message that drinking is okay?

In the United States, kids are starting to drink at younger and younger ages. If an event was being thrown by People Magazine, for example, with the cast of a popular American show, and mocktails like virgin Pina Coladas and Margaritas were being served, it seems like a lot of kids would want to participate. Would everybody stay sober though? Will teenagers in England and the U.S. sneak alcohol into the event and add it to the available mocktails?

Tools need to be in place to teach young people the dangers of alcohol. Education and prevention, along with early detection, are the most important approaches to identifying and treating alcoholism.

Can we teach responsible drinking with the use of drinks that look and taste just like the cocktails that have alcohol, that everybody of legal age are drinking? The example needs to be set that alcohol needs to be used responsibly and in moderation, otherwise we are encouraging a culture of alcohol in teenagers and young adults.

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