THE downward trend in teenagers using drugs is expected to continue as schools push education.
School Drug Education and Road Aware provide drug education to young people by delivering research-informed programs focused on prevention to schools.
Consultant Susanne Line said data from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey and the 2014 Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD) showed young people were smoking and drinking alcohol less and first trying them at an older age.
Amphetamine use decreased from 11.9 per cent of teenagers in 1999 to 2.8 per cent and cannabis use was down from 40.2 per cent in 1996 to 19.2 per cent.
“We anticipate the positive trends will continue when we receive the ASSAD 2017 data later this year, due to the ongoing improvements in education, resources and awareness,” she said.
“It’s very important for young people to understand that the majority of their peers are not using alcohol and other drugs, and that it’s OK to make an informed decision to say no.”
She also urged parents to talk to their children about alcohol and drugs.
“Work out some guidelines together about what are acceptable behaviours around alcohol and drugs and agree on the consequences if these are broken,” she said.
“Help your children develop and practice ways of responding to offers of alcohol or other drugs that helps them stay safer.”
According to Ms Line, if parents suspected their child was using drugs or alcohol the best thing they could do was talk then find ways to support and reassure them.
“Be prepared to hear what they say and respond in a non-judgmental way that shows you are concerned and you only want the best for them,” she said.
“While talking with your child about alcohol and other drugs is not always easy, having these discussions can make an important difference.”
Data from the 2016 and 2014 surveys showed:
– Age of trying first full cigarette: 16.3 years (15.9 in 2014; 14.2 in 2001)
– Proportion of students reported drinking in the past year: 44.3 per cent (79.7 per cent in 1984)
– Percentage never drunk alcohol: 31.5 per cent (9 per cent in 1984)
– Average age first tried alcohol: 16.1 years (14.4 years in 2014)