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Essex teenagers shocked by dangers of binge drinking

By Essex Chronicle  |  Posted: September 06, 2012

  • Fresh-faced: Helen Fairbrace before being aged

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AN ESSEX charity is warning teenagers of the dangers of binge drinking – by showing them a what they will look like in ten years' time.

alcoHELP has launched Change My Face – Drinking Time Machine, a website where people can upload their picture to see the effects of years of alcohol abuse.

The software, developed by forensic artist Auriole Prince, will be used to discourage 12,000 Essex schoolchildren from drinking excessively. It shows what someone could look like in ten years if they drank 40 units of alcohol – or 20 pints of lager – per week.

Fabian Broeker, from Springfield, has just finished his A levels at Boswells School.

The 17-year-old said: "I mainly go to house parties, on Fridays and Saturdays if it is a good week.

"I may drink some beers and maybe a few shots as well, but I'm not an alcoholic.

"Most of my friends are drinking the same amount, but they are smaller than me so perhaps it affects them more.

"The photo of me in ten years is shocking, I can't even recognise myself.

"The photo has put me off, it is the eyes, I cannot get over it."

Teenage mother Helen Fairbrace, 19, of Moulsham Lodge, used to drink more before she had her baby, William.

The ex-Moulsham High schoolgirl said: "Of course I like to drink, I used to drink, but I kept having health problems like with my breathing.

"Of course I have a drink now and again but I have stopped drinking so much and feel so much better.

"I have had to grow up quite quickly, but I think more people my age and younger people should be careful, and limit the amount of alcohol they drink."

After seeing her aged face, she added: "I will never binge drink again, this photo is a real eye-opener.

"I was so shocked when I opened it I nearly cried. I looked bloated and very red and old.

"My health is so important to me as I want to be around to see my little boy William grow up, thank you for this opportunity."

Essex Drug and Alcohol Partnership's January 2012 Alcohol Needs Assessment reported that 366,701 over 16s in Essex took part in hazardous and dependent drinking in 2009 to 2010, and 73,000 aged under 15 lived with a binge-drinking parent.

alcoHELP's trustees say they want children and young people to understand the risks associated with alcohol abuse so that they can make informed decisions based on evidence and facts.

Recovered alcoholic and founder of alcoHELP Terry Martin said: "After all, in the image conscious society of today, actually seeing the physical impact alcohol can have on ourselves is a sobering and powerful vision."

Debby Peirson, co-founder of alcoHELP and a recovered alcoholic, added: "By including the Drinking Time Machine technology on our website I strongly believe that we will strike a chord with young people by allowing them to see how their face would look in 10 years' time if they were to regularly consume alcohol."

To age your face visit alcoHELP's website at www.alcohelp. com/young_people/change-my-face and upload a picture.

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