Twenty-one-year-old Calista Fanthorpe started drinking when she was 12. “I would stand outside a liquor store and get a parent or adult to buy me a large bottle of hard booze to split with two friends. In less than an hour it would be gone,” Calista says. “I would become so intoxicated, engage in risky behavior and use other drugs. I was the ultimate party girl.”
Binge drinking had a devastating effect on Calista Fanthorpe’s life. She is now sharing her story so other teens don’t follow the same path. “Looking back, I saw a lot of care-free and well-liked party girls who inspired me in the worst ways possible.”
Sharing stories like Calista’s is at the heart of a campaign by Vancouver Coastal Health to reduce alcohol sales and accessibility to minors. The eighth annual campaign brings together members of the community, law enforcement, health and educators to share an important message: Think before you let them drink.
“Adults play a huge role in contributing to underage drinking,” says Kerrie Watt, alcohol and drug prevention educator at VCH. “Young women are particularly vulnerable to alcohol. They’re more likely to engage in risky behavior while binge drinking,” Watt says. “The risks associated with each gender are different, and unfortunately, young women come out drawing the short straw.”
“Parents and other adults need to know that providing alcohol to minors can increase their risk of engaging in problematic substance use in the future. When adults make alcohol less accessible, they are reducing the risk of long-term addiction,” says Susan Hogarth, Executive Director of Westminster Recovery Centre for Women.
Although Calista Fanthorpe is marking 18 months of sobriety, she wishes her life had taken a different path. “We were self-destructive and many adults seemed to condone it. Please don’t buy alcohol for minors,” she says.
The eighth annual “Think before you let them drink” campaign is supported by the North Vancouver RCMP and West Vancouver Police.
To support youth and parents, the Province has developed Alcohol Sense, a comprehensive suite of online resources to provide parents with tools to guide and educate their children in making healthy decisions about alcohol. To learn more, please visit Healthy Families BC