Last week I went to a policy focused meeting on the links between sexual risk taking and alcohol. At Brook we know that alcohol affects young people's sexual behaviour in a range of ways. It can give young people confidence to talk to someone they otherwise wouldn't, make the first move or to have sex they have decided they want.
They can also use it to explain away their behaviour, such as not using a condom or planning another form of contraception, and it can of course lead them to make choices about sex that they may later regret, or indeed to put themselves in unsafe situations where they can be hurt or abused, or indeed where they are violent themselves.
The evidence backs up our experience of working on the front line working with young people day in day out. I am really pleased government is going to look at joining up these issues - we know after all that young people's lives are joined up.
In trying to find a policy solution we must not lose sight of the massive cultural change that needs to take place - as one youth worker said to me 'what does it say about our culture that ADULTS (my emphasis) and young people need to go out and get absolutely pissed out of their heads so they can have the sex they want?'
Young people learn about alcohol from the adults around us - they learn from us that you drink if you are sad, drink if you are happy, to commisserate and celebrate. So all of us parents, carers, teachers, health professionals, youth, community and social workers must hold the mirror at ourselves if we want young people to develop positive attitudes to sex, drinking and keeping safe.