What Is The Legal Age To Drink In Croatia? Is Croatia Strict On Drinking Age?

Are there restrictions in Croatia regarding minors buying alcohol? Do you need to show some identification documents? What is the legal age to buy alcohol and how strict is it? What can you do if you are a minor and want to drink?

  • According to several Croatian laws, the sale of alcoholic beverages to persons UNDER THE AGE OF 18 is prohibited in retail trade, and at all points of sale where alcoholic beverages are sold, a sign prohibiting their sale to persons UNDER THE AGE OF 18 must be displayed.
  • A waiter or a bartender has the discretion right not to serve a customer, that is, to allow the customer to consume alcoholic beverages, if he assesses that the customer is less than 18 years old, and the guest does not voluntarily prove that he is older than 18 by means of identity documents.
  • According to a Croatian survey, 35% of minors in Croatia buy alcohol personally; 33% of minors drink alcohol at home; 48% of minors have never been prevented from buying alcohol in a store or a bar.
  • The same survey revealed that 35% of adult Croatians think that drinking alcohol is a normal part of growing up, whereas 45% would allow minors to drink on special occasions.

I took this picture in 2018 at the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

The sign was supposed to prevent tourists from stepping off the beaten path, because of the danger of falling off the cliffs and into the water.

Ironically, the sign itself eventually ended up in the water.

In Croatian there’s an idiom “pasti u vodu” (literally, “fall into the water”), and it means “to fail, go bad, to disappoint”

Unfortunately, it appears that many well-intended laws may have “fallen into the water”.

The Law is clear. If you’re not 18, you cannot drink alcohol in Croatia. What are the reasons why some of the restrictions may have “fallen into the water”?

Alcohol May Be Too Easily Accessible To Minors

According to the survey I mentioned, 71% of adults think that the selling and serving alcohol to minors should be more severely sanctioned.

The fines for serving or selling alcohol to people under 18 years of age in Croatia range form 300€ to as much as 40.000€. Still, minors relatively easily get to alcohol.

Unscrupulous individuals appear to be willing to serve alcohol to minors just to earn money and are prepared to take their chances with the law enforcement agents. Why?

It seems that part of the problem lies in implementation of the laws and their control in Croatia.

A Croatian proverb comes to my mind: “Gdje mačke nema, miševi kolo vode” or “When there is no cat around, mice do the dancing“.

Still, the problem might be on a deeper level:

Croatian Society May Be Actively Encouraging Drinking

“According to most data, a child drinks his first glass of alcohol at the incentive of a parent or other relative, and when an accident occurs under the influence of alcohol, we all wonder how come it happened!”

Dr. med. Diana Uvodić Đurić

I would dare to say that the listed figure of 45% of adults who would allow their children to drink alcohol on special occasions is too moderate.

When I was still a preteen, I learned that “you cannot eat fish without drinking wine!” Consequently, many parents in Croatia actually encourage their children to drink “bevanda” (wine diluted with water), to help them “digest fish” more easily.

According to another psychologist, this is the solution to the problem:

Responsible adults are essential in reducing the availability of alcoholic beverages to young people. In addition to caterers and salespeople, the most important adults are parents.

Parents and other important adults in the family environment are identification models with which children and adolescents identify.

The mere verbalisation of the prohibition of alcohol consumption by parents (just saying: You cannot drink) will not have a great impact on the child if the parents set the opposite example by their behaviour.

That is why it is important to have a stable, healthy and safe family environment, expecting the resistance that adolescents often express.

For teenagers, the influence of a peer group is becoming more important than that of the family, including making decisions about the use of alcohol.

Dr. Iva Šmigovec

What Can Be Done?

For young people, alcohol is often an escape from problems, helps them forget about things that bother them or temporarily boosts their self-esteem.

Therefore, it is the task of parents to teach their child how to have self-confidence and how to resist the pressures of the environment.

Parents will achieve this by loving their child first, even when they do not necessarily agree with his or her actions.

But that doesn’t mean you’re unconditionally protecting it from the environment. Sometimes a child needs to be allowed to make mistakes and overcome difficulties on their own.

In addition, support and praise of family and friends are important when a child does something good, but it is also important to accept your children’s friends. This will make the child feel accepted and have a more open relationship with you.

All this contributes to the development of a young person who has a strong character, is able to solve problems, has high self-confidence and, ultimately, resists the bad influence of the society.

What Can You Personally Do To Be Really Happy?

What if you didn’t have the support you needed in your childhood? What if your parents abused alcohol and didn’t provide you with a positive model to imitate?

Take heart! As you grow older, you will learn that you yourself create your emotions. You are not a victim of your emotions.

You don’t need alcohol or drugs to run away from your feelings. You know that!

Do you know those cartoons… A monster is running after you… You run and run and run. Finally you hide in a wardrobe. A sigh of relief… And then, suddenly, a pair of eyes open in the dark corner! The monster is there!

The same is with using alcohol to run away from your emotions. Wherever you go, the emotions are there. Because YOU create them. Emotions don’t float around us and enter into us.

How can you stop creating negative emotions? You need to understand the BELIEFS that produce your emotions. Our emotions are consequences of our beliefs. If we believe in lies that we’re unworthy and unlovable, we’ll create negative emotions.

So don’t believe in lies!

The older you get, the more you will be able to understand yourself and how awesome you are, take responsibility for your actions and be happy.

So, take a first step and start learning about yourself.

Like this duck, take a selfie! Get to know yourself!

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