The Christmas season at ours is never complete without my night of alcohol-infused shame being related.
The parents never tire of telling it. Aged 16, and on my first local pub foray with friends, one thought it would be funny to buy me doubles all night.
I arrived home to go to the midnight church service but only managed to greet the church-goers in between vomiting episodes on the front steps of our house.
The parents spent all night with me checking I wasn't going to choke and die mid-huey. At 7.30am I bounced into their room, fully recovered; they meanwhile felt like they'd been the ones on the batter.
Safe to say, I have never drunk vodka, lime and lemonade since: the thought of it still makes me shudder. And sadly, most of us have a tale to relate from our yoof involving alcohol that, many years hence, still has the ability to turn us a shade of crimson.
Sometimes we adults need to remember this when rushing to condemn the latest statistics on the consumption of substances by teenagers. Last week, the headlines screamed that one in seven youngsters "drank regularly".
A phone-in focussed on this national disaster with appropriate doom-laden sonorousness. We adults queued up to express our shock and surprise and what we are all doing to "address the problem" both as parents and professionals.
I'm afraid I rather rolled my eyes at it all. There's nothing like the realisation that today's teenagers are behaving just as we all did in our teenage years to unleash a sense of hypocritical moral panic.
Indeed, I'd be more worried at the prospect of today's youth turning out just like us and maybe that's where the debate should be concentrated. Frankly, we 30 and 40-somethings are the most irresponsible generation I know.
Addled with debt, addicted to good times, still ingesting too many substances than can possibly be good for us, avoiding maturity for as long as we can: if we want to work out what's going on with the junior generation, perhaps we should take a long hard look in the mirror. After all, children see, children do.
But it's only when you pare back the research that you realise how misleading the media portrayal has been. The survey findings actually contain an awful lot of good news.
Teenagers smoke much less than they did in the 1990s; indeed, the figures are at their lowest since 1982. There is also a downward trend in alcohol consumption, with fewer 13 and 15 year olds ever having imbibed. The trend for drug use is also downward.
Overall, what the findings show is that only a tiny minority of teenagers use (and therefore misuse) substances on a regular basis. What no one bothered to report – because good news is no news – is that for the one-third of 15 year olds who had a drink in the last week (apparently that means regularly to headline writers) there were two-thirds who did not.
Most of us would be toiling to stay within the recommended consumption limits, given the Christmas party season was at its peak. Maybe we should be conducting parallel research with adults on substance use, to give us a useful yardstick. I’d bet right now that teenagers' consumption habits pale into insignificance compared to grown-ups.
It is in scant supply and a media focus on this scandal would be helpful. As would a better understanding – and appropriate support services – of the reasons why some children try to obliviate themselves in drugs and alcohol. Scratch the surface and abuse, neglect and violence will be hidden beneath the veil of substance misuse.
Moreover, the data shows where to target resources to address consumption spikes. Tobacco use leaps between 13 and 15 year olds: surely we should focus preventative efforts at this age group?
But ultimately, we should take heart from these findings. Our young people increasingly turn their nose up at ingesting substances. Fewer smoke, take drugs or drink, despite the pressures on them and the prospects of becoming part of a lost generation dangling enticingly before them.
Such moral fortitude in troubled times suggests greater resilience than their elders and supposed betters. And that is the kind of good news that should be shouted from the rooftops.
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