Showing posts from June, 2017

Are schools really being swept up in a "drug epidemic"? Have things really changed since we were teens?

Earlier this week the Herald Sun published an article titled 'Victorian schools swept up in drug epidemic as hundreds of children struggle with addiction' . Not surprisingly it attracted a great deal of attention, being picked up by most media outlets across the country, with radio and TV jumping onto the story very quickly. It came out just after I had written a blog on the fact that fewer Australian teens reported drinking alcohol (which some people refused to believe was true) and fed right into the belief of some that if indeed young people were drinking less then that had to be due to the fact that they were simply now using more illicit drugs (something that is not supported by the data that we have ...) So what about this story and the fact that according to the Herald Sun (and I would presume data they received from Victoria Police), police "have been called to investigate more than 450 drug offences on school grounds, or at school events, since January 2014&qu

If fewer teens are drinking alcohol and if they do drink, they're older when they start, do we know why?

With the release of the latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) results we now have even more evidence that growing numbers of our young people are choosing not to drink alcohol. At the end of last year we saw the release of the data from the Australian Secondary School Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey(23,000 students from Catholic, Independent and state schools surveyed from across the country) which told a very similar story. Put simply, fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol. My favourite piece of data from the ASSAD survey is that in 1999 we had around one in ten 12-17-year-olds who had never used alcohol, but in the 2014 survey we had 1 in 3 who reported never drinking. That is a phenomenal result and a cultural shift that we should be celebrating! This is not just an Australian phenomenon, we are seeing similar results in many parts of the world. I was in The Netherlands last year when their school data was released and their numbers are almost identical to ours, 

"We didn't call other parents – he told us we didn't need to!" One Mum's story of when it all went horribly wrong ...

I've talked so much about trust over the last couple of months and the importance of remembering that during adolescence your child is likely to lie to you to get what they want. There are certainly those parents who don't agree with me, choosing to believe that if you trust your teenager they will 'repay' that trust with being open and honest about their behaviour, whatever that may entail ... As I have said, I believe strongly in the following - most young people will do the 'right thing' most of the time, however, all young people will do the 'wrong thing' at least some of the time! Parents need to be prepared for their child to 'let them down' at some time or another. Of course, don't 'expect' them to do the wrong thing but it is important to 'accept' that they are likely to slip up now and then, that's just what adolescents do! Every parenting expert will tell you that you have to trust your child at some point, b

Alcohol and other drugs: Why the media often gets it so wrong and why I have pulled away from interviews ...

For those of you who listened to Triple J in the late 1990s, I was the 'drug guy' on The Morning Show . For seven years I was a regular on ABC's youth radio network where for an hour each Friday morning we discussed a different drug-related topic, took calls from listeners across the country and talked about the 'pros and cons' of use. It was an amazing experience and I need to thank the wonderful Angela Catterns for first taking me under her wing and introducing me to the unique and incredible Triple J audience. I don't believe that there is any way that a segment like that would run on a national radio station today. Perhaps you would get one up-and-running on community radio, but even then it would take a brave broadcaster to cover some of the topics we dealt with back then ... For almost 20 years I regularly appeared in the media. In my role as the Information Manager at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), I provided comment on drug-re