Naica Illies,20, lives in northern Germany, which has some of the most relaxed alcohol laws in the world.

Children can drink beer, wine or sparkling wine with the permission of their parents or another person in a custodial role. 

At  16 they are allowed to buy and drink beer, wine or sparkling wine in the absence of their parents, but they must be 18 to consume spirits.

"Personally, I don't think I've suffered any harm because I started drinking at a young age," says Naica, who lives in Wietzen, between Bremen and Hanover, and is about to start a course in luxury hotel management.

"But in my opinion, it depends on how much you drink. 

The Herald: A waitress carrying Oktoberfest beers A waitress carrying Oktoberfest beers (Image: Freelancer)

"Because I started drinking early, I now know my limits and don't feel like I have to drink at every party to have fun.

"I keep my alcohol to a minimum but of course I also know people who drink a lot of alcohol and don't really feel the effect anymore because they're used to it.

"But I would say that most of my generation take a responsible approach to the consumption of alcohol.


"I also know many who don't drink alcohol at all, simply because they don't like the effects on their psyche and body.

"I feel the same way, but I still drink a little on special occasions.

The Herald: Naica Illies

"Overall, I can't necessarily assess whether teenagers or young adults in other countries drink more or less alcohol.

"But from experiences with exchange students or on vacation, I can say that there are people everywhere who don't have their alcohol consumption under control, but I think that always has a little to do with the external and internal circumstances of the person.

"I also think that such laws do exist, but you also have to keep in mind that these laws can also be circumvented.

"This certainly happens often, because most Germans start drinking a little earlier, so that always depends on your environment.

"I think it's okay that we can start drinking at the age of 16. We all still get our lives in order.

"Generally in a country it is the case that when young people want to drink, they get alcohol, even if it is prohibited by law."