June 21st marks the start of Drug Action Week, a nation wide initiative which aims to raise awareness about alcohol and other drugs in the community.
Every 24 minutes an Australian dies from the misuse of legal or illegal drugs – that’s over 22,000 preventable deaths ever year.
Life Education Australia, the nation’s largest private charity, educates 700,000 school children annually about the risks of drugs and alcohol abuse. Life Education Australia’s CEO, Jay Bacik says education and communication are the keys to prevention and he is calling on all parents to use Drug Action Week to open up the lines of communication and talk openly about these issues.
Here are Jay’s tips on approaching the subject of drugs and alcohol with your children:
- Approach the subject in an open and honest way.
- Be age appropriate – with younger children start by talking about healthy choices. As children get older talk about how drugs like medicines, alcohol and nicotine may adversely affect them, and as they reach teenage years, explore the topic of illegal substances and the associated risks.
- Choose the right time – don’t approach the subject during an argument or tense situation.
- Listen don’t lecture – have a two-way discussion and take time to listen to your child’s thoughts.
- Encourage self esteem, reinforce how unique they are and the importance of looking after themselves.
- Seek advice – if you’re not sure how to approach the subject ask. Life Education Australia offers family forums which encourage open communication.
By age 15, almost one third of teenagers are binge drinking and teenagers who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to become dependent on it than those who don’t start until age 21.
Jay Bacik says families play a very important role in the development of a child’s attitudes about drug use. Parents directly influence the behaviour of their children through their own behaviours and attitudes, as well as their family relationship. Open communication with parents is essential in building resilience in young people to deal with difficult life issues and in turn reduce the likelihood of drug misuse.
For more information visit the website www.lifeeducation.org.au