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“The Talk”

“The Talk”

While most parents brace themselves for talking to their kids about sex, it’s not the only challenging conversation they’re encouraged to make. The Australian Drug Foundation has recently launched a new campaign called “The Other Talk” which is a resource to help parents have a conversation about alcohol and other drugs with their kids.

“The Australian Drug Foundation [ADF] has been working closely with parent groups who have told us they want one place with all the information about alcohol and other drugs” say John Rogerson, CEO of the Australian Drug Foundation. In response they have launched a website, www.theothertalk.org.au to act as the first port of call for families.

Research by the ADF shows that over 80% of adolescents have used alcohol by the time they are 14 years of age, one in five 16 and 17 years olds drink risky amounts of alcohol at least once of month, and 36 per cent of 12-17 year olds drink to get drunk every time they consume alcohol.

According to the ADF, parents are the greatest influence on their teenagers; they can deter adolescent drinking and play a vital role in drug prevention. Some of the advice ADF gives when talking to kids includes knowing the facts about alcohol and drugs (like the effects of ice and speed), being clear in your beliefs, looking for opportunities to start the conversation, asking for your child’s views on alcohol and drugs, making sure they understand the harms of different drugs, and setting rules.

“Drugs are often still a taboo subject within families,” says Rogerson. “We want to make it easier for parents to feel comfortable enough to initiate the conversation about alcohol and drugs, and feeling informed is a big part of that.”

Know the facts [Source: The Australian Drug Foundation]

  • Alcohol is a drug. It acts as a depressant and has numerous other effects on the body.
  • Teenagers have less physical tolerance to the effects of alcohol. Adolescence is a time when the brain is still rapidly developing and is therefore more susceptible to damage due to drinking alcohol.
  • The earlier an adolescent starts drinking, the greater the chance that they will have problems with alcohol later in life.
  • Risk of suicide and self-injury is higher in adolescents who drink heavily or frequently.

Some tips for modeling responsible drinking

  • Limit alcohol use, especially in front of your children
  • Do not get drunk, especially in front of your children
  • Sometimes decline the offer of alcohol
  • Do not portray alcohol as a good way to deal with stress, such as by saying, “I’ve had a bad day, I need a drink!”

Warning signs that indicate your adolescent may be misusing alcohol

  • repeated health complaints
  • changes in sleeping patterns
  • changes in mood, especially irritability
  • starting arguments, withdrawing from the family or breaking family rues
  • dropping grades, frequent school absences or discipline problems at school
  • changes in social activities and social groups
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