Showing posts from May, 2013

Should I be worried if my teen is going to music festivals?

Music festivals like the Big Day Out, Splendour in The Grass and Good Vibrations have all become major events, with most capital cities and even some of the smaller cities across the country hosting such events. Over the years I have been involved with the organisation and running of some major dance parties and have also been contracted by a number of promoters to assist them with advice around alcohol and other drug safety. Years ago these events were only open to those aged 18 years or over but in recent times there has been a major shift and we are now seeing younger and younger teens attending music festivals. One of the questions I get asked by many parents is what happens at these events and should I allow my child to attend? Firstly I would say from a person who has attended dance festivals (in days gone by), as well as worked at many (from an organizer, medical, law enforcement liaison and crowd control perspective) I believe that these are not appropriate for a

What do I say when my child asks about medical cannabis?

The issue of medical cannabis poses an increasingly difficult problem for those trying to provide cannabis prevention messages to young people. Since a number of American states have made 'medical marijuana' available I have had more and more students question why the drug is illegal in this country if it used as a 'medicine' in other countries. I'm also being asked by parents attending my presentations how best to handle questions around the issue ... I'm not the biggest fan of American TV comedies but recently I have watched a couple of such shows that have based the week's episode around the availability of medical cannabis - as you can imagine, hilarity ensues! When you think how much our society is saturated with American pop-culture references and how much these influence our day-to-day life, it's not surprising that some young Australians are starting to believe that cannabis is also available in this country for therapeutic purposes. Even those

Communicating messages to young people through real-life stories

Anybody who has ever heard me present knows that a big part of my talks are 'stories' – things that have happened to young people and their parents that I have met over the years. Their names are changed and any information that may identify a particular person or event is altered, but it is usually these anecdotes that have the greatest impact on those attending my presentations. With as many talks as I give I sometimes worry that there will be someone in the audience who may know the person I am talking about – no matter how well disguised there are some stories that may be identified by some. I faced this same dilemma when I wrote Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs a few years ago. Should I get the person's permission if I use a story they told me? How would someone feel if they pick up the book and find their story on the pages? As I said in the introduction to the book, my concern was addressed when I was giving a presentation to a group of educators in Perth. Since 2

Steroids and supplements: Are they an issue for school-based young men?

    The story of two secondary school students caught with steroids at a private boys school in Queensland last week received national attention. Details of what they were selling and/or using have not been made public but what made this story particularly interesting is that it is the first time in my memory that performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs) have been seized in a school setting. The principal responded swiftly and when you go to the school website there is a  message from him that acknowledges that the "... incident, while serious, highlights the issues associated with body image for young men." He goes on to write that the "... College will continue its drug education program throughout the pastoral care program with a renewed interest and effort around body enhancing drugs and supplements." So should we be worried about PIEDs and supplements? What does the evidence say and is use increasing amongst secondary school students? Unfortuna

Is there such a thing as a 'recreational drug'?

Put simply, there is no such thing as a 'recreational drug'. It is a term not used in the scientific literature and anyone from the alcohol and other drug field who knows what they're talking about would never use it. Politicians and the media love the term, tossing it around frequently and then yell and scream about the term being 'inappropriate' – when in actual fact, they are the only ones who really use it! Although there are no such things as recreational drugs, there is 'recreational drug use'. Maybe that seems like semantics but there really is a huge difference. It would appear that the media and some politicians use the term to describe a particular drug that is somehow less problematic than others. It is frequently used to describe drugs such as ecstasy and amphetamine ('speed'), but has also been used in discussions about many other substances. This is a little like the terminology 'soft drugs' and 'hard drugs', words