“Let’s drink, let’s enjoy”
Tahira Vargas García
Many of our Christmas merengues show the close relationship in our cultural logic between the festive content of the season and alcohol consumption. The “bebentina” climate they express is not questioned.
This contradicts the current concerns in the country about other musical genres where illegal psychoactive substances are integrated into the consumption for pleasure. These substances are the only ones considered harmful, and in some cases, it is understood that any music that mentions them should be banned so as not to promote their consumption.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is a legal psychoactive substance promoted in festive activities without age or condition restrictions. Alcohol consumption is supposed to be prohibited for people under 18 years of age, but it is not enforced. As a result, children and adolescents under 18 can be observed consuming alcohol in entertainment places and parties, and nothing happens.
The high level of alcohol consumption in our society during the Christmas holidays is shown by the presence of a significant proportion of intoxicated people on December 23-25 and from December 30 to January 1. The COE report of January 2, 2023, presents a total of 663 cases of people intoxicated by alcohol, “of which 48 turned out to be minors between 14 and 17 years of age.” (Hoy (Today), January 2, 2023)
Many families are permissive and promote alcohol consumption in their children (male) under 15 years of age based on the erroneous perception that alcohol favors the “virility” of the boy-adolescent, thus linking alcohol with masculinity.
In the family and neighborhood environment, there is concern about the use of marijuana, crack, and cocaine, but this does not occur with alcohol. There is no recognition of the severe health consequences of alcohol and that it is also a drug but a legal one.
Studies on illicit drug use show that it starts with “legal” drugs such as alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. Alcoholic drinks not only initiate but continue to be part of the diversity of mixtures of addictive substances (alcohol-marijuana-tobacco-crack) that generate severe damage to the health and life of our children and adolescents.
Families and communities must be oriented by child protection agencies on the consequences of alcohol consumption at an early age and prioritize the generation of changes in the cultural logic that reinforce this consumption. Risk prevention-emergency operations should integrate the child and adolescent protection component in all areas.