Positive steps taken to tackle drink problem

Lydia Emerson and Declan McAlinden.
Lydia Emerson and Declan McAlinden.

A meeting will take place next week in Lurgan to address drink and drug issues in the town.

It’s been organised by Derryadd woman Lydia Emerson with the help of local councillor Declan McAlinden.

Lydia (33), who has recently completed a Masters in Public Health, teamed up with Declan, who raised the issue of drink and drug awareness among teenagers following the incident at the Hardwell concert at the Odyssey Arena and the rise in the phenomenon of Neknomination.

In last week’s ‘MAIL’ we reported on an SDLP councillor’s claim that Lurgan people don’t seem to be able to enjoy themselves unless they’re “paralytic drunk”.

Ahead of the meeting which takes place on Wednesday, March 5 at 7.30pm in Links (23a Castle Lane), Lydia said: “Merely telling young people to stay away from alcohol isn’t an effective strategy.

“They need to be made aware that, by abusing alcohol, there is every likelihood they will end up in some sort of trouble.”

“It makes them more likely to be the victim of assaults, road accidents or participate in unprotected sex leading to unplanned pregnancies and STIs.

“In terms of crime, one in ten 11 to 16 year olds who drink are involved with the police.

“The earlier a child starts drinking the higher the risk of serious alcohol problems later in life.

“Parents play a key role by promoting a responsible approach to alcohol.”

The issue of drugs in the local community will also be discussed at the meeting.

Declan said: “Drugs ruin lives and children need to be educated to stay away from them.

“Some schools we’ve spoken to have grasped the chance to get involved, others are still to come on board. Drink and drugs are important issues that need to be discussed at an early age.

“This affects the whole community and has been getting cross party support.

“This first meeting takes place in Lurgan, but the plans are to have rural meeting further down the line.”

Lydia added: “Whenever I was doing my Masters I was really interested in health promotion. What I found is there are not enough targeting children. That’s why it’s important to get the schools involved.”

At Links next Wednesday there will be six stands attended by Barnardos, React, Relate, PSNI, Opportunity Youth and Camhs. The two main sponsors Emtek and House of Vic-Ryn Trust.

Speaking at the event will be Teresa Burke, who lost her son to a drugs overdose and local man Barry McGuigan, who will be talking about a car accident he had at the age of 21 that changed his life. He said if he could do anything differently, he wished he’d listened to his dad.

Those attending the event can also avail of acupuncture, pick ‘n’ mix and beer goggles, which show you how your reactions slow as the number of pints you consume increases.