Showing posts from March, 2013

What about analgesics and young people?

Analgesics, commonly known as 'painkillers', are exactly that - drugs that are designed to relieve physical pain. There are a variety of medications that a doctor may prescribe a patient, but for the purpose of this piece we will be discussing some of the commonly used over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics, such as: aspirin codeine (usually in combination products) paracetemol ibuprofen It is important to note that most analgesics are safe to use when taken as prescribed or instructed by a doctor or pharmacist, together with the manufacturer's instructions that are listed on the packaging. Over the last few months whilst visiting schools, however, I have become aware of some fairly frightening behaviour as far as analgesic use is concerned. Here are just a few examples: a 15 year old girl who was using 4 Panadols at a time because she was feeling depressed a Year 11 young man who was taking two Nurofen to ease his anxiety before taking an exam a group of young men

Alcohol and the liver - the issue we don't always talk about

In recent years we have seen a great deal of information become available on the effect alcohol can have on the developing brain. Certainly there can be few parents who are not at least somewhat aware of the risks in this area when they make a decision to allow their teenage son or daughter to drink alcohol at this time in their life. Unfortunately, little has been said about the effect that alcohol can have on the developing liver. Over the years I have received a number of emails from parents, most of whom work in the medical profession, who have attended my presentations who have wanted to express their concern about this growing health issue. They are usually liver specialists, or have close friends who are, who believe that this is a topic that just doesn't receive the 'air-time' it should. Here is an example of an email I received earlier this year (please note I have removed identifying information and I have received permission to use sections of the email in t

Should we still be calling it 'peer pressure'?

Years ago I was asked to present a short talk to a group of Year 6 students on the far north coast of NSW. It is unusual for me to present to such a young group of people but the teachers involved convinced me that it was appropriate. Before I began the actual talk I asked the students what they knew about drugs …. could they name some drugs that they had heard of? No real surprises there – the hands went up and we got a whole range of responses including alcohol, tobacco, drugs from a doctor, cannabis, Panadol, ecstasy and heroin. Then I asked them why people used drugs? With that, every hand went up in the air at the same time, and when I asked them for their answer the whole class responded in unison - 'peer pressure'. This was a group of 11 and 12 year olds and I was surprised at the intensity of their response, so I asked them to explain what they meant. What does 'peer pressure' mean? My question was met with a deadly silence – not one of the students could give

Should you tell your child about your past drug use?

A study was recently released that looked at the effect parents telling their children about their past substance use had on the young person’s beliefs and behaviours around drugs. The research received a bit of media attention and pushed the line that admitting to past drug use was counterproductive. When any research is reported on in the media it is important to go to the actual published paper and see what was exactly said before accepting the published headlines. Certainly the authors state that, based on their evidence, “parents should reflect on the potential negative impact of talking about their prior use”. They believe that in doing so there is the potential to ‘normalise’ drug use and “downplay” the negative consequences of using substances. That said, they have also made very clear that there are many limitations to this study. The major one is that the parent-child communication was not observed, it was all self-report data provided by the child. As far as I could see th