Alcohol, drugs and teenagers
Current trends- A SNAPSHOT
One of the most commonly abused drugs in Ireland is alcohol. The excessive intake of alcohol is across all socio economic backgrounds and is seen by many young people as a way of life at the weekends. The number of girls excessively drinking from mid teens has increased greatly and now drinking is seen by some, as a waste of money if the person is not intoxicated by the end of the night.
Another drug young people have become heavily reliant on is cannabis. Young people are reporting smoking cannabis as a way to relax and forget any issues. However, once challenged a young people will usually not be aware of the dangers of cannabis on their mental and physical health. Young people also report cannabis as one of the most available drugs in their area.
Today young people are also experimenting with Benzodiazepines. Young people report craving the feeling of calm from the drug. Young people report stealing benzodiazepines from family members who have been prescribed the medication and sold it on as there is such a high demand for the drugs. One of the most abused benzodiazepine and sought after drugs is Valium. They are sometimes used to ease the comedown from stimulant drugs (‘uppers’) such as ecstasy, cocaine and speed or with other ‘downer’ drugs such as alcohol and heroin. Prescribed medications should be kept in a locked medication cupboard and only opened by a responsible adult.
How can I try and deter my son/daughter from experimenting with drugs?
Communication is essential. Talk and listen to your young person, make sure they are aware they can talk to you. Some young people fear getting in trouble or your reaction. Tell your young person you are there for them and will help support them.
Educate yourself, look up drug educational sites like www.drugs.ie this site has all information on drugs from the types, the dangers and the effects. Once you know the facts, talking to your young person about drugs will become a lot easier.
- Let your young person know the facts, dangers and effects of drugs. Have conversations and discussions about the dangers of drugs and very importantly what to do if someone offered them a substance.
- Know where and who your young person is friends with. Remember as their parent/guardian it’s your responsibility to know they are safe at all times!
- Discourage your young person from smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Set clear boundaries and consequences with your young person.
- Let them know how proud you are of them and encourage sports, music and other health protective activities.
What should I do if I find a drug in my young person’s room?
Remain calm as communication is essential, this situation can be very stressful and worrying for a parent/guardian. However, you must be calm when talking to your young person about the substance. This may be the time when the young person will share any worries or issues with you. You need to be supportive and listen very carefully to their reasons for experimenting with the drug. Help can be provided by the Foróige Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Education Programme for both the young person and their parents/guardians. Contact Cara Currid 086 0481977
What should I do if my young person returns home under the influence of alcohol/drugs?
Remain calm, try not to panic. Sit with the young person in a quiet room. If the young person’s state starts to deteriorate or the young person becomes unwell CALL 999 for medical help. If you know what they have taken, tell the medics. Save any pill bottles or other containers for the medics to help them know what they have taken. These situations can be extremely frightening and stressful for the young person and their parent/ guardian.
When the young person has recovered, discuss the incident in a calm and supportive way. Many services are available to help both parents/guardians and the young person.
Useful resource for parents:
Foróige Alcohol/Drug Prevention and Education
Are you a parent of a young person aged 10-17 who would like more information on drugs/alcohol? Are you a concerned parent that your young person may be using or misusing drugs/ alcohol? Perhaps you would like someone to talk to / or have someone talk with your young person.
The Foróige Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Education Programme provide young people with information and skills to help promote health protective behaviours reducing risky incidents. We can help clarify information, dispel myths, challenge attitudes and provide factual information about tobacco, alcohol and drugs, relevant to the age of your young person and we can do this with parents or a young person on a one to one meeting or over the phone or as part of a group.
We can provide young people with a safe environment in which they can discuss their opinions and attitudes about drugs, develop and enhance their life skills to deal with situations in the future and make decisions which will improve their overall health and well-being.
For young people who are already having problems as a result of drug or alcohol misuse we can also help. We can explore with young people the risks associated with drug taking, identifying ways that they can reduce the risks of harm from drug misuse and the environment in which they may take substances. We can help young people to develop life skills such as being able to look at the risks involved, make positive decisions, control their impulses and improve their communication skill.
You can contact Cara Currid, Foróige Project Worker 086 0481977 for more information.