Alcohol and other drug prevention in the family
Harmful alcohol and other drug use by young people is a concern for most families and communities. While most young people make a relatively smooth transition from childhood and adolescence to adulthood, some young people may engage in one or more high-risk behaviours such as:
How common is alcohol and other drug use among young people?
Although many young people may experiment with alcohol and other drugs (legal or illegal) at some stage, most will not go on to experience problems. According to the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report:
Risk and protective factors
In recent years there has been a lot of research done by health professionals that has found some key influences that can affect whether a young person is more or less likely to use alcohol or other drugs. These are called "risk and protective factors".2
There are many risk factors that can increase the chances of a young person misusing alcohol and other drugs. The more risk factors there are over time, the greater the risk. There is a strong relationship between early indicators (risk factors) and subsequent problems.2
The risk factors that may increase the likelihood of harmful drug use in young people include:
Personality and peer influences:
Although no single risk factor can be said to cause harmful alcohol or other drug use, the more risk factors a young person is exposed to—the greater the chance of them trying or using one or more drugs.5 Research in Australia indicates that the same risk factors that influence harmful drug use among young people can influence other problems such as criminal behaviour, homelessness, mental health problems and sexual risk taking.2
What can be done to protect young people from these risks?
Research has also shown that it is possible to reduce the risks of harmful alcohol and other drug use by strengthening certain protective factors in young people. Some of
these protective factors include:
Together, families, schools and communities can reduce the risks and increase these protective factors in young people.
Drug prevention strategies
The most effective drug prevention strategies are those that target more than one risk factor, are integrated across the community and are coordinated through childhood and adolescence. These strategies include family intervention, parent education, school drug education, school organisation and behaviour management, restrictions on the sale of alcohol and tobacco, and initiatives undertaken by the community.2
Drug prevention in schools
Drug prevention initiatives in schools include drug education and other programs to improve or enhance students' experiences at school. Examples of such programs include mentoring and anti-bullying, breakfast clubs to ensure students start the day with a nutritious meal and homework clubs to help students experiencing difficulties in completing homework.6
Drug prevention in the community
Communities support individuals, parents and families through programs that build confidence and good communication. Community drug prevention projects may include programs for young people and parents; publications (booklets, posters, advertisements) that provide information; and health promotion campaigns, including sport, arts and recreation activities.2
Drug prevention in the family
Families play a vital role in drug prevention. In partnership with schools and the community, families can prevent, delay or reduce the risks of harmful drug use in their young people. Some strategies for building on the protective factors within the family include:
Help for parents
It's important for families to talk openly about alcohol and other drugs. For advice on how to start the conversation, visit www.theothertalk.org.au website.
It is not easy to raise a family in today’s society. Some people feel they do not have the knowledge, skills or support they need. Programs that help parents develop family management skills and provide support at home are becoming increasingly important. These programs can help parents develop their children’s ability to deal with the challenges of growing up, including developing responsible attitudes and behaviours toward alcohol and other drugs.2
Family support programs are offered through schools, community health centres and other organisations. They may also be of benefit to grandparents, foster parents and other carers. Family support programs can:
Some parenting programs offer skills training applicable to a specific situation or group, for example families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.2
Drug prevention benefits everyone
Harmful alcohol and other drug use by young people is a concern for everyone. Family support programs aim to promote healthy and happy relationships within families and can be an effective drug prevention strategy. Their effectiveness can be strengthened when supported by drug prevention initiatives in schools and across the community. Parents, families, schools, communities and governments can all work together to prevent harmful alcohol and other drug use and to improve the wellbeing of all members of the community.
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Retrieved from http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/information-for/the-facts-about-young-people-and-drugs#sthash.6kbYB1n7.dpuf
Retrieved from http://webarchive.nla.gov.au/gov/20140801053539/http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/
Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-abuse-among-children-adolescents/chapter-1-risk-factors-protective-factors/what-are-risk-factors
Retrieved from http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/conferences/schools/grove.pdf
Last updated:16 September 2015