Majority of kids say no to drugs
IF asked, most parents and teachers would say that Australia is in the middle of a binge drinking and ice epidemic but the facts are vastly different, according to drug and alcohol educator of 25 years, Paul Dillon.
He was in Yamba yesterday speaking to teachers from Maclean High, Gulmarrad and Yamba public schools about the role of teaching in drug education and misconceptions about drug taking presented by the media.
“Ice roughly costs $700 per gram, no kid can afford that,” Mr Dillon said.
The facts he presented were both shocking and sobering. He said on the whole it was the risky behaviour of a small minority of kids that was getting all our attention.
Drug education needed to move away from attacking kids’ behaviour to providing good models from adults in the community.
“Year 10 and 11 students are half as likely to use illicit drugs than when you were the same age,” Mr Dillon told the teachers.
“They are less likely to drink-drive than you are.
“The most recent National Drug Household Summary shows that under 10 per cent of the population over 14 years old have ever tried cocaine, amphetamine, heroin or hallucinogens and their use is declining,” Mr Dillon said.
“Australia has the second lowest rate of tobacco use in the world, but the ones to watch are alcohol and ecstasy.
“Four Australians under 25 years old die from alcohol-related injuries in an average week and alcohol-related sexual assaults is the epidemic of the moment.” He described alcohol as a ‘vote loser’ and until recently was not included in drug education.
And although 25 per cent of all Year 11 and 12 kids today say they have never tried alcohol and the majority are ‘sometimes’ drinkers, the small minority who do drink are doing so younger, more often and are drinking sprits, thanks to the introduction of alcopops.
“Alcopops are vodka on training wheels,” Mr Dillon said. “It takes one to three months for a male to change from drinking alcopops to drinking base spirits.”
He said that all teachers were responsible for drug education in their schools.
This largely involved building resilience to help kids bounce back from life’s stresses and nurturing, what he called an individual’s protective factor, such as intelligence, capacity for empathy, easy temperament and ability to connect.
While teaching children in this way was the practice in primary schools, subject-based teaching in high schools meant that many teachers felt drug education was only the role of health teachers.