With Christmas and New Year approaching it is a time for parties and celebrating, and a time when many of us will be drinking more than usual.
Many adults and young people will be celebrating and as professionals we have a job to make sure that young people are prepared and safe. Each year in December and January there is a peak in the teenage conception rates and research has shown that young people are more likely to regret having sex and less likely to use contraception if they have been drinking.
People drink for many different reasons but alcohol reduces our ability to think clearly so when people drink too much, they are more likely to take risks. We can do well to learn from Australian colleagues who really emphasise safety and the important role of helping to keep friends safe by thinking ahead about contraception, knowing limits when it comes to alcohol, not leaving drinks unattended, looking after friends, making decisions and talking to partners about boundaries before drinking, knowing how you will get home and who to call for help if things go wrong.
Brook's Have fun. Be careful campaign reminds young people that if they are going to have sex to always make sure they use a condom to protect against boths STIs and unplanned pregnancy.
As well as a mistletoe and 2010 version of the Have fun. Be careful poster, Brook has also produced and alcohol themed poster, alcohol themed fortune teller and 'Christmas cracker' postcard. We have also just launched a new booklet as part of our 'Ask Brook' range, Ask Brook about sex and alcohol. All of these are available to order by contacting 0870 750 3082 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is also imporatant to remember over the festive season that sexual health centres and clinics may not be open at their usual times yet many young people phone us surpirsed that the service is closed - do what you can to alert young people to any changes in service provision over Christmas and New Year.