The Subject of Drugs and Alcohol
Every 24 minutes an Australian dies from the misuse of legal or illegal drugs - thats over 22,000 deaths every year. Life Education Australias CEO says education and communication are the keys to prevention.
Drug Action Week, aims to raise awareness about alcohol and other drugs issues across Australia.
Talking about Drugs and Alcohol is very difficult for parents. We spoke with Life Education Australia CEO Jay Bacik, who has given us hints and tips to approaching these topics successfully.
By the age of 15, one third of all teenagers have and are binge drinking and over 22,000 deaths every year are from the misuse of legal and illegal drugs- we want to prevent these deaths and education and communication are the key to prevention.
Jay Bacik teaches 700,000 school children annually about the risks of drug and alcohol abuse, Jay believes that parents are the most influential person in a children's life and they need to open communication in regards to these issues.
What is the ideal age to begin speaking to your child about legal and illegal drugs?Jay Bacik
: I think it is about talking about health. Parents should be teaching good health and it be reinforced within the home. At Pre-school our programs focus on being healthy in regards to behaviour, relationships, respect for others and yourself and good hygiene. Then the education moves through to positive diet, not bullying and then in grades four and five the students are taught about the medicine at home. These medicines are not dangerous but the program teaches students about Panadole and their Asthma Puffer.
There are nine programs and the 'Harold' brand is used as a distinction and as a 'mystery'. Harold has a mystery attached to him and children listen to Harold because of that.
How influential can a parent be in regards to alcohol and drug usage? Jay Bacik
: Statistics have shown that parents loose confidence but what they need to realise is that they are still the number one influential factor in a child's life. First the parents need to be teaching life skills, with information, presenting it informally. Then about drugs in the home and then further to how unhealthy cigarettes are. In year six alcohol is important because of misuse. The good news is that a lot of children don't drink or take drugs, but the dangers associated with those that do are very high even lethal. Communication is important.
What is the best way to approach the topic of drugs and alcohol with children? Jay Bacik
: Model it in your home. Ask questions and discuss whilst drinking. I was once told by my son 'that is your third standard drink in an hour' - children do notice actions. Parents need to talk about alcohol and smoking, it is very important for them to not dismiss the subject or a question. Never say 'I will tell you when you are older'- just simplify the answer for the age group.
If many 15 year olds are now drinking, binge drinking, how can parents approach this topic and ensure their child isn't? Jay Bacik
: Parents are still the wanted influence. They believe that kids go through a period of not wanting to listen and dismissing everything that a parent says, this may be true, but it does become evident in later years that they still take notice of their parents. My son, at 20, admitted, three years ago he didn't think it, but now there is no-one else he enjoys talking to more. Parents need to 'hang in there' and love their children unconditionally.
Parents can create boundaries within the home, if there child is smoking they can say that the home is a 'smoke-free zone' and not allow underage drinking in the home whilst modeling the information and rules they implement. It is negative when kids see that their Dad becomes 'very funny' after a few drinks. No parents are perfect but they need to say what they think and communicate. If there is an advertisement about smoking or drinking on the TV use that to talk about it.
Is it a good idea to approach a topic with "How many of your friends drink alcohol?" Jay Bacik
: Yes. A lot of children don't want to 'dob in their mates' but they are happy to talk about 'what they are doing' and 'how they feel' without implying if they do or do not smoke or drink. It is good to begin talking about these topics.
If a teenager becomes angry when a parent approaches the topic, how is best to go about the talk? Jay Bacik
: Let the kids see it being modeled. Think about how many drinks you are having and this is good for your kids to see. Every parent wants their child to be healthy, so be serious about modeling that in the home.
We also have a program in October were legends stay sober for 30 days, this raises money whilst raising awareness and encourages others to think about how much they are drinking.
Getting addiction treatment at the top drug rehabs with private rooms
is highly recommended for those who can afford it.