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Brilliant drug & alcohol resource for parents of teens

The biggest challenge for parents is often just staying informed about what is really happening in the world of their teens. This is nowhere more true than in the use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Fortunately we have ready and free access to some of the best research in the world, and some of the wisest thinking, right here! The Australian Drug Foundation provides an excellent set of free resources on its website. From this page you can access research, ideas and a great list of links to support and help agencies.

Their page provides access to information and statistics that are current, reputable and – best of all – Australian based.

Their subsite provides all parents and carers need to intiate a conversation with their teens and pre-teens about the use of alcohol and other drugs.

ADF also has resources for young people.

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Are all young people drinking?

In the words of Harold Arlen it’s time to ‘accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative’ in thinking about teen behaviour.
I have always thought that we (meaning those of us who speak to and about teenagers) are far too focused on the negative statistics. Promiscuity, suicide, bullying, drug and alcohol abuse are easy attention grabbers and make wonderful PowerPoint slides because they have such frightening consequences. No one wants to think about, let alone experience, having a teenager hurt by any of them.

The problem with this focus is that it ignores the fact that most of the really frightening behaviours are experienced by the minority, they are the exceptions. The vast majority of kids are just normal adolescents who will probably experiment – to a point – but will generally make wise choices.

When the extremes are constantly highlighted we fail to affirm the kids who have positive behaviours, possibly to the point of making them feel abnormal and thus susceptible to moving into riskier territory.

We also fail to consider the sources of wisdom and confidence to make good choices that are found in many teens. Principally these are the active involvement of caring families, teachers and youth workers who take the extra step to become mentors, guides and role models, and membership in faith or community service organisations that give teenagers an inner value and purpose that they choose to not disrupt with risk taking choices.

Parents need to be encouraged to believe that they are not powerless and that their actions are making a difference to the safety and confidence of their children. Teachers, too, need to be reassured that every small act of care they make is a building block in the foundation of resolve and confidence in a teenager’s life.

This excellent article on Drinkwise makes this point in regard to the realities of binge drinking.

It’s time we started to apply the same kind of thinking to all of the life harming activities. Certainly we need to highlight the potential dangers, that knowledge is a big part of what keeps kids safe, but let us do so in a way that affirms and encourages positive behaviours and choices that naturally lead to exciting, fulfilling, safe lives.

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Is your child using drugs?

Teens will be teens. They sleep late, fail a test here and there or get uncharacteristically moody. But what if these behaviors are happening more often than usual, or all at the same time? You know your teen better than anyone, but it is important to know what to look for if you suspect he or she may be abusing medicine.

1. Health concerns. Keep an eye out for changes in your teen’s physical health, like constricted pupils, nausea or vomiting, flushed skin or dizziness. Look further into anything that seems strange.

2. Changes in behavior. The signs of medicine abuse aren’t always physical. Look for changes in behavior – like sudden changes in relationships with their family or friends, anxiety, erratic mood swings or decreased motivation. It’s no secret that teens can be moody, but be on the lookout for drastic differences in the way your child behaves.

3. Home-related signs. If you’ve noticed belongings disappearing around the house, or found some unusual objects appearing – like straws, burnt spoons, aluminum foil or medicine bottles – this could be a sign of medicine abuse. Count – and lock up – the medicine you have in your home and safely dispose of any expired medicine.

4. Trouble in school. Take note of how your teen is doing in school, including any change in homework habits and grades. A rapid drop in grades, loss of interest in schoolwork and complaints from teachers could be indicators that there’s a problem.

5. Things just seem off. You know your child better than anyone and you know when something’s not right. Trust your gut, and talk to your teen about your concerns.
With one in four kids reporting abuse of prescription drugs in their lifetime, it’s important to take action right away if you do suspect medicine abuse. Don’t be afraid to talk – and listen – to your teen, work through things together and get help if necessary.

(From, a U.S.A. based charity dedicated to providing information about the effects and harms of drugs and support for both those who are at risk because of their use of drugs and their families)