Showing posts from December, 2012

Why don't the ASSAD Surveys' results always match our personal experience?

The 2011 Australian Secondary School Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey was released today and for the next few years these figures will be used by a wide variety of people to describe what is going on amongst high school students in terms of alcohol and other drug use. I use the ASSAD data all the time - it is a great piece of research that provides some really useful information - but the response I get from many people I speak to, whether it be teachers, parents or those who work with young people in other sectors, is that the results simply don't match their experience. For the purposes of this post I'll be looking at just the illicit drug use, we'll leave the alcohol, tobacco and over-the-counter information for another day ... Once again, the data shows quite clearly that the majority of Australian secondary school students do not use illicit drugs. Here are just a few of the key findings: in terms of lifetime drug use, rates were either stable or decreasing for a

'Sheesha' smoking: Why should we be worried?

In the week that the world-first initiative of the plain packaging of cigarettes has finally been introduced in Australia, we should be incredibly proud of our achievements in the tobacco area. We have one of the lowest rates of daily smoking in the world and data that we have available from the latest 2011 ASSAD Survey indicates that we continue to see an upward trend in the number of Australian high school students who have never smoked cigarettes. That said, I am seeing a very worrying trend across the country that may be removing some of the existing barriers around smoking - the increasing popularity of 'sheesha' smoking. About six months ago I was at a school in Sydney's eastern suburbs when a Year 10 student asked me about the harms associated with smoking a 'hubbly bubbly'. He had gone to a friend's 15th birthday and the parents of the birthday boy had given their son and his friends a sheesha to use at the party! I was absolutely floored - I couldn