Showing posts from March, 2017

My cousin, heroin and how his death shaped how I work with young people today

One of the questions I am most often asked by students, teachers and parents alike is why I got into this area and why I am so passionate about the topic. There are really two parts to the answer - the first, fairly boring and uninteresting and the second, deeply personal ...  The boring part is simply that I fell into it - there was no grand plan and I certainly never saw myself as ending up working in the alcohol and other drug field. Ask anyone I went to school (or teachers college or university) with  and they would say I was most probably the last person they would imagine would end up in that area. I trained as a primary school teacher, taught for a number of years and then left, moving through a number of jobs until finally ending up working at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW. Schools would occasionally call the Centre and ask for a researcher to give a presentation to students and, not surprisingly, no-one was interested. One day, someone sugge

'Helicopter parenting': Take the quiz and see where you fit on the 'parenting continuum'

Parents have it tough! In many ways, when it comes to parenting, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't ... We constantly tell parents that they need to be involved in their child's life, to be interested in what they do, know their friends, where they're going and what they're doing, but at the same time we warn about the risk of 'overparenting'. This is a term used to describe a situation when parents are so protective of their children, so desperate for them to succeed in life, that they will do everything in their power to help them on their way and avoid anything potentially unpleasant. There have been a number of different types of overparenting identified over the past 20 years, with American media describing these over-zealous Mums and Dads as 'rescuers', 'white knights' 'snowplough' or 'bulldozer' parents and most recently 'lawnmower parents'. Interestingly, Scandinavian commentators have

A practical guide to hosting a safe teen party at your home: All the things you've never thought of ...

Hosting a party or gathering for teenagers is a huge responsibility. You want those attending to have fun but, at the same time, it is your responsibility to provide a safe environment for that to take place. Things can go wrong. It is important to consider all the possible risks and put things into place to ensure the safety of not only your guests and your family, but also your neighbours and the wider community. The greater the planning, the more likely it is that things will run smoothly.  The parties that are being put on by parents today are very different to those that many of us remember from our teens. Firstly, many of them are much larger events, with 60-80 teens on the invite list not being unusual (I can't personally see why any teen would ever need to have that many people but that's me - what do I know?). Secondly, where many of us only ever attended parties with people we knew well, today with the advent of the 'plus one' event, the mix of teens ar

Does where you live make a difference to your child’s potential alcohol and other drug use?

In Australia we know a great deal about the prevalence of drug use, particularly when compared to other countries in the world. The statistics that we have are often provided for particular states and territories, but you rarely see them broken down into greater detail than that. There are many reasons for this, but most importantly, the more detail given, the greater the chance of being able to identify who provided the information. This is particularly true of data on secondary school students' drug use. Even though people often request more detailed information on the drug use in a particular area, it is rarely, if ever, given as this could lead to a particular community being identified and result in the schools (or school) and their students in that area being labelled as having a 'drug problem'. That said, we do have enough information to suggest that there are certain areas where we are far more likely to see particular drug use than others. For parents, this mean