In the last few months of the year a number of tragic deaths occurred in Waterford. Is it not time to look at a major public education programme on young people and health?

Participation rates in sport are down, drink and drug consumption is up. Some experts say that giving out too much information on illegal drugs only encourages more interest. A media and public relations campaign is needed not just for press and radio but also on websites. Social network sites like Bebo and Facebook could be used.

Major search engines that young people use such as Google, Yahoo and MSN, could also be asked to give space for public information. Colleges like WIT and Parnell St. VEC are other vehicles to attract that younger audience.

We wonder what can be done in the circumstances so the message gets out properly. The dangers out there are not being heeded. Some say new year new start, saying no to drugs could be a new year resolution.

Parents, mentors, community leaders will all have to get more vocal on the issue, learn more about it and not ignore it.

In the past the Irish had a major reputation for drink, which we still have to some extent. Alcohol remains a major killer on the roads and also via liver disease.

Around Waterford we see many homeless, who have had to leave the family home often due to drink. They may also have some mental health problems. It does not make the same headlines as drugs but needs serious attention. The late Brother Columbanus was great, through Breadline, to help such poor unfortunate people.

The Irish have a certain wildness where they like a good time and can over- indulge over Christmas. There may have been occasion where many normal people might have one too many, but the way we are now this is perhaps a problem for many throughout the year. A saner approach to alcohol and drugs is needed.

The idea of having to get wasted to have a good time is too strong in the Irish psyche and this itself needs to change. This would be a huge cultural change but it would be worthwhile for future generations.

The Celtic Tiger has spawned wild drinking and drug taking like was not seen a decade ago. More money is available to spend, but why not spend on sport or weekends away or even save it for a rainy day?

A number of attitude changes are required. The start of the year may be a good time to review and have some positive new resolutions.