The Reality of Alcohol and Students in Israel

The hushed fact is that many teens spending a gap year in Israel will be drinking alcohol.   Another hushed fact is that tens of gap year students will be treated for alcohol poisoning or other alcohol related injuries and illnesses during their time in Israel. In past years, gap year students have even died because of alcohol poisoning.  The legal drinking age in Israel is 18 years old.  For American youth in particular, this is an exciting novelty and it is tempting to enter pubs and drink.

Do the math: The availability of alcohol + the absence of parents + the desire to fit in = Potentially risky behavior

Many young adults believe they are immune to getting hurt, that nothing bad will happen even if they engage in some risky behaviors.  Many parents think their child is safe in Israel, will be monitored well, will act responsibly and will not drink, after all he/she is going to Israel to grow and improve.  Both sides are totally unrealistic!! 

This false narrative can lead to parents not addressing a serious issue.  We urge you all to have this important conversation about alcohol with your child before he/she leaves for Israel!!  EMA Care’s goal and your goal are exactly the same:  We want to keep your child safe.

EMA Care suggests these 5 points be discussed:

    1. Availability of alcohol in Israel
    2. Your desire that he/she not drink, but an understanding it may be tempting.
    3. Never drink alone, and even though driving a car is not an issue for students here, one person in the group should not drink to assure safe behaviors
    4. Explain how to lower their risk if drinking:
    • eat a meal before going out, 
    • alternate an alcohol beverage with non-alcohol beverage, 
    • always know what you are drinking, 
    • moderation is the key - having a drink does not mean getting drunk!! 
    • male and female alcohol tolerance is very different: At a maximum (which we do not recommend) young women should drink no more than 1 drink/hour, while young men should drink no more than 2 drinks/hour.  More than this amount cannot be absorbed by the body.
    1. Explain “high risk drinking”. Any type of binge drinking, alcoholic games, drinking to get drunk, and drinking alcohol too quickly is dangerous. Any pub or get together where the majority of people are drunk is dangerous. Ask your child how he/she would get out of a situation like that.

Open communication is the key. This is your child’s opportunity to be mature and take responsibility for his/her choices! Don’t be afraid to bring it out in the open!

EMA Care wishes you and your children a wonderful, safe year in Israel!

EMA Care provides medical concierge, case management, and patient advocacy services to tourists, students and residents of Israel. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.



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