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Showing posts from 2014

Hangovers: Causes and cures

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For many Australians this time of the year usually involves some sort of partying, whether it be with friends, family or workmates. Unfortunately, this can also end up with waking up the next morning to a spinning room, a violent headache and the need to rush to the toilet feeling rather unwell. Unfortunately, it would appear that this is also a regular occurrence for some of our young people. Before we can try to answer how to get rid of a hangover, what is the actual cause of the problem?

The simple answer is, of course, drinking too much alcohol. A hangover is the result of your body experiencing a mild reaction resulting from an overdose of alcohol and certain 'toxins' that are associated with alcohol consumption. Your body attempts to protect itself by producing enzymes to break down and remove the toxins from your body. Unfortunately, the process does not occur fast enough and the resulting build-up of toxins in your body is believed to be a major cause of hangovers. When…

5 simple things parents of primary school-aged children can do to help their kids make better choices around alcohol later in life

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All parents want their children to have healthy attitudes towards alcohol. If their child does choose to drink when they are older, they want to do their very best to ensure that they drink responsibly and are as safe as possible. Too often parents wait until their child wants to try alcohol or be invited to a party where alcohol may be available before having a discussion about their expectations when it comes to teen drinking.

The earlier you start the discussion, the greater the chance you have of having a positive influence in this area. I wish I could get more parents of primary or lower secondary school-aged children to come to my Parent Information Evenings - it's a constant battle with many of them believing that it is not yet an issue and that they'll deal with that problem when it arises. In fact, parents of primary school-aged children, in particular, have a great opportunity to make a real impact in this area and if you put some effort in nice and early, there is…

Can you get addicted to a drug after just one try?

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Over the last few weeks we have seen story after story on the 'ice epidemic' (now also referred to as the 'ice age'). Interestingly, the media has decided to focus on the young people angle lately – the Sun Herald telling the story of four Sydney teenagers who had all tried the drug by the time they were 14 years old and the Canberra media running a story on users as young as 12!One of the most common grabs that I have heard from the ex-users (and current users) of the drug that they use in these stories is "I tried the drug once and I was hooked!" – it’s a great line and I just wanted to spend a little time to discuss if it is actually possible to get hooked or 'addicted' to a drug with just one try … We have used the 'one try and you're hooked' line for many years - we've even seen it in government mass media campaigns, particularly around smoking (I tried to locate the original images from the Australian campaigns that ran in the 80…

Why do we only talk about ecstasy after someone dies and is that effective in terms of prevention?

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Over the years we have had a number of ecstasy-related deaths that made the headlines, some of which have stayed in the public consciousness ever since. Most of these involved young women from 'good' and loving families, each of which appeared to have their whole lives in front of them, but due to a fateful decision to take a pill in search of a good time their future was snatched away from them. There have been other ecstasy-related deaths, however, that did not make the headlines (or even get any media coverage at all in some cases), usually male and most often a little older (although there have been a small number of female ecstasy-related deaths that did not attract media attention) but for the most part, when someone dies after taking ecstasy it generates a huge amount of attention. In fact it is extremely rare to find ecstasy ever really attracting any media coverage unless someone dies - yes, we see law enforcement announcements of large drug busts and drug detection d…

Choosing to film a drunk or drug-affected person instead of helping them: Why would someone do that?

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In an Opinion Piece published in News Ltd papers during the week titled ‘Does Georgina’s drug death prove we have become a city of impassive bystanders?’, Louise Roberts commented on disturbing reports that instead of seeking help for the young woman who died last weekend after attending a dance festival, a number of people opted to video the incident instead:

"... we have a new playmate in town. The passive bystander, armed not with a conscience but a smartphone, filming all that real-time grief and watching Bartter's last gasps for life through a screen. By witness accounts, at least five of these "sick and twisted" male strangers were calculating and disconnected beyond comprehension and in position to perfectly capture those ­terrible moments. At what point, in the ­microsecond it takes to act on instinct, does someone reach for a phone instead of reaching for the hand of someone dying at their feet?"

She goes onto explain the phenomenon as follows:
"In t…

Why does an ecstasy pill cause the death of one person while others do not seem to be affected at all?

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Almost every year at the beginning of the dance event season we see yet another senseless ecstasy- related death. This weekend a 19 year-old Sydney girl fell ill after reportedly taking one a half pills at the Harbourlife Festival. According to newspaper reports, by the time she arrived at St Vincent's Hospital she had already gone into cardiac arrest and died shortly after. As soon as I heard about the incident I not only thought about the tragic loss of a young life but also the devastating effect such an incident will have on her parents (who will through no fault of their own be thrust into the media spotlight, at a time when they need to grieve privately and try to deal with the tragedy), the rest of her family and her friends - I can't even begin to comprehend what they are currently going through and what is ahead in the next few days and the weeks and months ahead ...

I'm often asked by students why it is that when such a death occurs, why we don't see a whole…

Giving parents permission to say 'no' (but reminding them to always look for opportunities where they can say 'yes')!

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Last week I met the most wonderful mother after my Parent Information Evening ... as she approached me she had a big smile on her face but as she started to speak she burst into tears! In an effort to placate her I quickly told her that her crying was very quickly going to result in a similar response from me if she wasn't careful and she responded by laughing through her flood of tears and said "I'm not upset and nothing bad has happened, it's just that after hearing you I finally feel okay about saying 'no' to my daughter! It's just such a huge relief!"

Recently she had been facing great pressure from other parents to 'loosen up' and give her daughter a little more space. There was a party coming up and it was to be hosted by the same parents who had put on an event the previous year that had got out of hand and she did not want her daughter to attend. Unfortunately she had been convinced by others that to say 'no' and not let her 15…

'Sleepovers': 5 things your child won't want you to do that you should!

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Anyone who has heard one of my talks or has read much of what I have written this year knows that one of my greatest concerns is the increasing lack of parental understanding about what teenage 'sleepovers' are becoming. I believe that in many cases the 'sleepover' is actually a secret teenage term for "I'm going out drinking but I'm not telling you!" ...

Now before anyone jumps down my throat and says that's not always the case and that there are sleepovers held all over the country every weekend that are completely innocent involving just a group of young people getting together and spending time with their friends, I completely agree. But from my perspective, however, these night-time get togethers are changing in many ways and because parents regard them as innocent and safe, they rarely question or challenge the information their child gives them and it isn't too long before a clever teen works out that this is a really easy way to get a…

Medical cannabis: Getting lost in the smoke and forgetting that the drug can be highly problematic for some

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Over the past year we have seen a very interesting change in the way we have been speaking about cannabis in Australia. The medical cannabis debate has hit the headlines and we have seen a major reframing of how we talk about this issue - all of a sudden it's all about children ... stories about very young children suffering greatly due to a range of conditions (but mostly epilepsy or conditions where seizures are involved) and how bureaucracies are preventing these very young people getting the 'medicine' they so urgently need. We have seen stories on all the tabloid current affairs shows, the News Ltd papers (usually very 'anti-drug') have covered this topic very aggressively and even Alan Jones has come out in support of making cannabis available for medical purposes ... You'd have to say that the airing of SBS's Insight program a couple of weeks ago really brought it all to a head, with the program going even one step further by asking viewers to take p…