The Other Talk
Adolescence is a developmental period that for some teens is characterised by increasing risky and health‐compromising behaviours.
Of note, adolescent substance use continues to be a public health concern. Particularly as during adolescence the brain is still developing and is more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and illicit drug use, which can cause short and long‐term health problems.
The 2011 Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) Survey showed that 33% of 17 year olds reported consuming alcohol in the past seven days, in addition to 15% reporting that they had tried cannabis and 3% reporting that they had tried ecstasy. Indeed, even Australian young people are becoming increasingly concerned with the issue of alcohol and drugs, with 23.8% of young people identifying alcohol and drugs as one of the most important issues facing Australia today*.
To ensure that as parents you are able to manage your teen’s risk against alcohol and illicit substance use the Australian Drug Foundation recommends that all parents have the ‘other talk’ with their teen as research has shown that teens consider parents to be credible sources of information.
There is no set formula for having ‘The Other Talk’ but the Australian Drug Foundation recommend six steps to make the conversation easier (http://theothertalk.org.au/). These include:
- Get the Facts: Learn the facts about drugs and talk openly with your teen.
- Be clear in your beliefs: Research has shown that parental monitoring and family rules about alcohol has reduced the likelihood of young people drinking.
- Look for opportunities to begin the conversation: Look for relevant topics in the media (TV, music, and sport) as a way to begin talking about drugs and alcohol.
- Ask Questions: Enquiring about your teen’s views and attitudes about drugs and talking through different situations may help them if their peers are influencing them.
- Make sure they understand the harms
- Set rules and consequences: Ensure that your teen knows your views on alcohol and drugs and agree to fair rules and consequences for breaking them.
NSW Government‐ Family matters‐ How to approach drug use issues in your family
NSW Government‐ Drug Information for Parents http://www.mhcs.health.nsw.gov.au/publicationsandresources/pdf/publication-pdfs/5910/vic-5910-eng.pdf
Directline is a 24 hour telephone counselling, information and referral service for people wanting to discuss any alcohol or other drug related services. Phone: 1800 888 236.
Parentline provides a statewide telephone counselling service to parents and carers of children aged from birth to eighteen years. Phone: 13 22 89.
* Mission Australia youth survey 2014.
Ms Karina Dubroja
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