Teenagers, alcohol and the risk of Cancer

Drinking in Teens and 20’s Increases Cancer Risk 
European Action on Alcohol Week runs from 20 – 24 November
 

·         Around 900 people are diagnosed with an alcohol-associated cancer each year in Ireland.
·         Drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing cancer. Drink less to reduce your risk.

 
This year’s European Action on Alcohol awareness week takes place from 20 – 24 November, with a focus on ‘Alcohol and Cancer’. The HSE is highlighting the campaign in Ireland and recommending that people visit www.askaboutalcohol.ie  to find out more about reducing your risk of developing cancer.

Every year in Ireland, approximately 900 people are newly diagnosed with alcohol related cancer. Alcohol causes 7 types of cancer including mouth, larynx , throat, oesophagus, breast, liver and bowel and is listed by the World Health Organisation as a Group 1 carcinogen along with tobacco, asbestos and HPV. The cancer risks from alcohol are real. However, there is robust evidence which shows that over one third of cancers could be prevented through lifestyle modification.

This year’s awareness week highlights the link between drinking habits early in life and long term risk of developing cancer. Many young people don’t realise that drinking in your teens and 20’s increases your cancer risk. Just as smoking does not cause lung cancer overnight, drinking in your teens and twenties does not result in a diagnosis of cancer immediately, but it certainly increases the risk 10-20 years later. The campaign highlights the fact that for younger people, what they drink now has an effect on their cancer risk sooner than they may think. Quarter of women who developed breast cancer were under 55, and half of mouth, head and neck cancers are diagnosed in those aged between 50-64years.

Dr Marie Laffoy, Assistant National Director, HSE National Cancer Control Programme says, We have known for some time that drinking alcohol regularly increases the risk of developing some types of cancer but this evidence means it’s important to get the message out to young people that what they drink now effects their cancer risk in the future. Drinking regularly in your teens and 20’s does have an effect long term and this isn’t something you can ignore until you are in your 50’s and worry about it then. The positive news is that this is something every individual has the power to control – the less we drink, the lower the risk of developing these cancers.

Women in their teens and 20’s who drink regularly increase their risk of developing breast cancer by 34%. The Healthy Ireland 2016 survey reported that just 16% of 15-24 year old women were aware of the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer (1 in 8 breast cancers are caused by alcohol). What even less will be aware of is that the risk of breast cancer risk is greater among women who start drinking prior to their first pregnancy. Even low levels of alcohol consumption (just over 1 drink per day) can increase a woman’s risk.

In Irish men, alcohol poses the greatest risk for mouth, head and neck cancers. Those who drink two or more standard drinks per day are three times more likely to be diagnosed in their lifetime with these cancers compared with those who do not drink.  Over half mouth, head and neck cancers diagnosed in Ireland can be associated with alcohol. For men and women who drink alcohol throughout their lifetime, there is a 49% increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Research shows no significant difference depending on the type of drink. Whatever the type of alcohol consumed, the effects are the same. Drinking less reduces the risk of cancer.

For more information on a low risk approach to alcohol visit  askaboutalcohol.ie. The website has features that can help you to assess your drinking including a drinks calculator and self-assessment tool.  The website also provides information for people who are worried about their own drinking, or worried about someone close to them, and has a service finder to help connect people to support and services.

Spirals – a parenting programme for parents of 0 -3 year olds

Spirals is coming to Greencastle Community Centre

Spirals is a group parenting programme for parents of children aged from 0 -3 which is run by the Lifestart Foundation. The programme provides an introduction to a range of interesting parenting issues and child development topics for parents and care givers. Play is an central theme of the programme with interactive play sessions every week. The delivery method is fun and interactive with lots of YouTube clips, discussions, practical demonstrations and tips on how to nurture babies and toddlers as they grow and learn.

Spirals will begin on Thursday 23rd November

from 10 – 12 in Greencastle Community Playschool at Greencastle Community Centre. You can contact the Centre on 074 9381054 or email them at info@greencastlecentre.ie to book a place on the Spirals programme.

Spirals will also be starting in Letterkenny in February 2018. Contact parenthubdonegal@gmail.com or 087 1736667 for details.

 

Mevagh Family Resource Centre

Mevagh Family Resource Centre is based in Downings, County Donegal. Since our foundation in 1998 we have established the centre as the area’s natural focal point by providing services and family support. In more recent years we have focused on additional family friendly activities while still providing a range of programmes and services, including community education, community garden, men’s shed and group supports.

 

We also deliver specific projects for children and young people, developing personal capacity, improving health and wellbeing and providing educational opportunities. We work in partnership with local agencies to provide these supports. Programme’s include:

 

  • Breast Feeding Support Group – every Thursday morning @ 11-12:30pm
  • Busy Bee’s, Parent, Baby & Toddler Group – Every Friday @ 10-12pm
  • Junior Youth Club age 7-12 years – every Thursday @ 3:15-4:30pm
  • Youth Club – Club Óige Mhíobhaigh– every Friday @ 7:30-9pm
  • Book Club – second Tuesday of every month @ 8pm
  • Mevagh Craft Group – every Thursday @ 10:30 – 12:30pm
  • Mevagh Carers Group – second Tuesday of every month @ 11am
  • Mevagh Men’s Group – second Tuesday of every month @ 8-10pm
  • Mevagh Women’s Group – third Monday of every month @ 8pm
  • Mevagh Men’s Shed – every Tuesday & Thursday @ 7-10pm
  • Mevagh Community Garden
  • McGrath School of Speech & Drama – every Wednesday @ 5-8pm
  • ParentStop – when needed, can book through making an appointment.

 

In addition to this, the centre provides information, advice and supports to meet the needs of individuals and groups. We also offer faxing, typing and copying service, internet access, library, agency outreach, assist with job applications and CV writing, room rental and tourist information. Our Centre opens Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and close for lunch 1pm to 2pm.

Giving our children the best start in life – a survey

 

Giving Our Children the Best Start in Life 

Listening to the Views of Parents and Carers of Young Children

A Survey by the Katharine Howard Foundation

 The Katharine Howard Foundation is conducting a survey to coincide with Universal Children’s Day which takes place on 20 November 2017.

The aim is to get parents views on what helps parents most during pregnancy and the first three years of their child’s life – and what else would help.

The Survey is open from 8th to 30th November and is available to access here or via KHF website, Facebook and Twitter.

The findings from this consultation will be analysed and written up in report which will be made available on the website and social media avenues.

Relevant agencies will be advised of the findings which relate to their services.

Supporting the health and wellbeing of our teenagers

Health & Wellbeing

Adolescence has been described as a time of rapid development when young people develop new skills and are faced with lots of new situations.  As a parent you will know that this presents both opportunities for your son/daughter to grow and develop as a person but that it all brings challenges and risks to their health and well-being.  Engaging in positive activities and programmes provides young people with the opportunity to forge relationships with adults and their peers while also developing the health behaviours that are crucial to their health and well-being and provide that strong foundation for their adult lives.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Foróige Health and Well Being programme contact Susan McLoughlin 086 6064291.

Useful Links

http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Teenagers_Wellbeing_d3.pdf

There are various issues at home that may impact on a young person’s well being including bereavement, parental separation, domestic abuse and parental drug or alcohol use. Please see additional specific links.

http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Teenagers_coping_with_Death_d3.pdf

http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Teenagers_coping_with_Separation_d3.pdf

http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Teenagers_coping_with_domesticabuse_d4.pdf

http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Teenagers_coping_parents_Drug_abuse_d4.pdf

 

Mental Health

Youth mental health is very important. It affects everyone in society and the World Health Organisation has announced it as a global priority (WHO, 2015). It is quite common to see a mental health problem emerge for the first time during the late teenage years and mid-twenties. Life has changed dramatically in the past 20 years and young people have significantly more life stressors than previous generations due to the rapid pace of social, economic and technological developments. Whether you are a young person or are a parent, understanding how to deal with mental health problems early and effectively is going to be of a great benefit to you.

Young people aged 12- 25 years of age often have different needs to that of younger children and older adults. Donegal Youth Service provides a free and confidential one-to-one support service for young people aged 12-25 years called Teen Talk. This service is specifically designed to meet the developmental needs of young people and offer them support in a way which respects their needs. Young people experiencing difficulty in their life can avail of this support to help them cope with issues such as bullying, sexuality, family conflict, problems at school or friendship or relationship difficulties or anything else they may be struggling with.  Young people themselves or parents can call us directly and set up an appointment with one of our trained professional Teen Talk youth workers.  No problem is too small, we provide support for young people in crisis but we also take a preventative approach where possible and believe intervening with problems as soon as possible can prevent more serious problems in the future.

For more information or to refer a young person contact Louise Lynch, Teen Talk Coordinator on 074 91 29640 or add Teen Talk on WhatsApp at 085 2553816

Jigsaw Donegal provides a free and confidential support service for young people aged 15 – 25, with a drop-in centre on Pearse Road in Letterkenny. Jigsaw Donegal aims to make sure that young people’s voices are heard, and that they get the right support, where and when they need it.

Jigsaw offers a one-to-one support service for young people aged between 15 and 25. Jigsaw helps assess the young person’s mental health and help them understand what is going on. Jigsaw staff work with the young person to set goals around what they would like to be different in their life and then support them to reach those goals, through talking things out, problem solving, learning new skills and / or hooking them up with other services that might be able to help (e.g. education & training; youth services etc).

As a parent Jigsaw can inform you of how to support a young person yourself or how to help them access Jigsaw or other supports that they might need.

For more information   : https://www.jigsaw.ie/jigsaw_donegal/

 

Useful Link:     http://ie.reachout.com/parents/

Physical Health

Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders, concerns about weight, appearance and poor eating habits are very common in today’s society. Eating disorders are not just about eating too much or too little. Eating disorders affect the mind and the body. It is about food, body shape, body image, exercising, and dieting as well as other life factors. There are a number of eating disorders, of which anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are probably the types most people are familiar with. Young people may go through periods of binge eating or dieting. At times however, concerns about weight, appearance and inappropriate eating habits such as binge eating or dieting can become excessive and begin to affect a person’s health and well-being. This is the stage at which an eating disorder is said to exist.

Many young people experiencing an eating disorder do not seek help on their own. Indeed, many will try to minimise or deny their problem and hide their problem from family and friends. These conditions affect males and females and the impact of these conditions on a young person’s life can be quite serious and at times can even become life threatening. If it is identified and treated effectively early however, positive outcomes are more likely. As a parent of a child with a suspected or diagnosed eating disorder seek help and ongoing support. Talk to your local family doctor (GP) or health centre. Find out where they are located by visiting the HSE.ie online service finder. For more information about eating disorders the Bodywhys website is a great resource: www.bodywhys.ie and www.reachout.com.

(Adapted from Foroige Mental Health Resource)

For more information, please click on the links below:

https://www.safefood.eu/Childhood-Obesity/Welcome.aspx
https://www.safefood.eu/Healthy-Eating/Food,-Diet-and-Health/Life-Stages.aspx
https://www.healthpromotion.ie/health/healthy_eating

You should also check out: http://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/13plus-years/buy for more information on supporting your teenager’s physical health through diet and activity.

Sleep and Teens

Sleep is vital to your well-being, as important as the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. It can even help you to eat better and manage the stress of being a teen.

Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence — meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm.

Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best. Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.

Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week — they typically stay up late and sleep in late on the weekends, which can affect their biological clocks and hurt the quality of their sleep.

Many teens suffer from treatable sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea.

(Taken from: https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep)

Sexual Health

There are a number of links to websites and publications that will inform you about sexual health matters with regard to your teenager. Talking to you teenager about relationships and sex can be daunting however research conducted by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency outlines the following “our research tell us that good sex education at home and in school can increase the likelihood that teenagers will wait until they are 17 or older before they have sex and that they will use contraception when they do”.

www.b4udecide.ie

This website encourages the delay of early sexual activity until young people have all the facts they need. The site provides information about healthy relationships, factual information on contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.

Link to: http://b4udecide.ie/parents/talking-to-teenagers/ to order or download publications on the following:

Busybodies: For parents of 10-14 year olds. Used in 5th, 6th class in school or in 1st year. Contains basic information on puberty and human reproduction.

You Can Talk to Me: DVD and booklets – contains tips and advice for parents on talking to their children about relationships and sexual health.

Parents – Tips for Talking to Older Teenagers about Relationships and Sex: For parents of older adolescents. Contains information for parents on talking to their children about relationships and sex.

The FACTS DVD: For parents, teachers and youth workers providing sex education to older adolescents and young adults. Contains information on fertility, contraception, sexually transmitted infections and crisis pregnancy.

www.yoursexualhealth.ie

This site provides information, advice and support on sexual health.

www.spunout.ie

A website informing young people on all aspects of health and sexual health.

 

Donegal Youth Service offer programmes with a focus on sexual health, tailored to the age range of the young people attending. The training covers topics such as puberty, media and body image, positive relationships including communication skills, rights and responsibilities in relationships, consent, socialising safely, information on contraception and sexually transmitted infections as well as sign –posting to specialised services when specific issues arise.

DYS are currently operating a Condom Card Scheme for young people aged 17-25, which is condom distribution programme, providing registered young people with a Condom Card, entitling them to free condoms. Typically, a young person applying for a C-Card will go through the following process: Registration, Issue, Review. Young people will meet with a trained youth worked and receive detailed information on condom use, current laws, consent, sexually transmitted infections etc. and will complete a registration process. On completion of registration, young people are issued with a pack of three condoms, lubricant and information leaflets. On the subsequent five visits, the young person can simply present the card to receive another pack. After six visits the young person must renew their registration, allowing for a further consultation with the youth worker, to ensure continued access to information and support.
For more information on the Sexual Health Awareness training or the Condom Card Scheme please contact Sheena Boyle-Laverty on 074 91 29630

 

 

 

Are you parenting teenagers? Let us support you.

When our babies are born we recognise the value of support – whether it is from family, from Parent & Toddler groups, Breastfeeding support groups or the Lifestart Parenting programme. It is good to know that support is available for us when our babies grow up and we find ourselves parenting teenagers with all the joys and the challenges that brings. Here are details of some of the programmes available in Donegal.

Parents Plus Adolescents Programme

This is an evidence-based parenting course promoting effective communication and positive relationships in families with adolescents aged 11 to 16 years.  The Programme considers how parents can connect with and build good relationships with their teenage children, while also being firm and influential in their lives. Topics covered in the programme include : Getting to know and connecting with your teenager, Communicating positively and effectively, Building your teenager’s self-esteem and confidence, Negotiating rules and boundaries, Teaching teenagers responsibility, Positive discipline for teenagers, Managing conflict and Solving problems together. The Programme is run over six to eight weeks for 2 hour sessions per week. These free programmes are advertised on the Parenthub Website and Facebook page. Contact the Parent Hub Coordinator on 087 173 6667 for more information.

Common Sense Parenting

Common Sense Parenting (CSP) is a practical, skill-based parenting programme that can be applied to every family. The easy-to-learn techniques address issues of communication, discipline, decision making, relationships, self-control and school success.  It provides parents with a menu of proven techniques that will aid them in building good family relationships, preventing and correcting misbehaviour, using consequences to improve behaviour, teaching self-control, and staying calm plan. CSP is a two hour, six week programme.  If you would like more information contact Susan McLoughlin in Foróige 086 6064291

Strengthening Families

Families Matter are involved in delivering the Strengthening Families Programme (SFP). The programme is an evidence-based family skills programme. SFP is a family based programme for the ‘whole family’. It is available for families with children aged 6-12 years old and teens aged 12-16 year olds. Families attending the programme gain improved family relationships, enhanced parenting and communication skills and skills to manage stress, anger and peer pressure. It has been found that by improving parenting protective factors and family relationships and resilience it will lead to reducing problem behaviour, improve school performance and reduce criminal behaviour and alcohol and drug use in young people.

The programme comprises of three life skills courses taught together over a 14 week period. The three life skills courses include Parent Skills, Child / Teen Skills and Family Skills. Each weekly session lasts 2 ½ hours and the family attend as a whole.  To help reduce barriers for families to attend the programme SFP provides transport, childcare and evening meal as part of the overall programme.

The programme is facilitated by SFP trained professionals across a range of agencies / organisations in Donegal. Families can be referred on the programmes by a trained professional or a participating agency.

For more information go to: http://www.alcoholforum.org/strengthening-families-programme/

Teen Parent Support Programme

 The Teen Parents Support Programme is a support service for young people (aged up to 21 years) who are pregnant or parenting. The service is open to the young mums & dads and also the grandparents.

The support that is provided will depend on the individual needs of the young mum, young dad or the grandparent.

Some of the types of support provided include:

  • Assistance to remain in or return to education/training
  • A safe place to talk about how your pregnancy is affecting you and your relationships with those around you – such as the other parent of your child and your own parents
  • Support with antenatal care and classes
  • Parenting programmes to suits the needs of young parents
  • Opportunity to meet other young parents through various group work programmes and activities.
  • Support and information for grandparents.
  • Information on parental rights and welfare entitlements.
  • Support to adjust to your new roles and responsibilities as a young parent.

Contact Details: Project Worker Michelle Maguire 086 8186345 /michelle.maguire@forogie.ie or Project Worker Jacqueline Doherty – 086 8371335 / Jacqueline.doherty@foroige.ie

 There is also support available for parents through the Donegal Youth Information Centre

Donegal Youth Service operates Donegal’s only Youth Information Centre, which actively supplies information relevant to all aspects of young people’s lives. It offers a one stop shop approach where all information is available under one roof. This also involves supporting parents with information on issues that their children are experiencing.  This service provides information and guidance on job and accommodation seeking, applying for student grants, studying and working abroad, their rights and entitlements, discover training and 3rd level opportunities, and a safe, supervised space to spend time in during the day.  They also provide information seminars, workshops, and training (including intercultural awareness training).  For more information on how the Youth Information Centre, DYS can help your family contact: Gareth Gibson, Youth Information Manager on 074 91 29630

Useful Links

http://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/13plus-years

 

Helping our young people to be connected, respected and contributing to society

It is important for the wellbeing of our young people and the wellbeing of society that young people feel they have something to contribute to their community. 

One way of helping young people to be connected, respected and contributing is through involvement in Youth Clubs.

Youth Clubs in Donegal

A major issue affecting young people today is that it has become harder for them to develop a strong sense of identity, meaning, purpose, belonging and security compared to previous generations due to the dramatic way our world has changed.” (Eckersly, 2008).

Being part of a youth club has many great benefits for young people.  It improves their confidence and self-esteem, and it also gives them great opportunities to avail of training, make friends, learn new skills and really feel a part of their community.  International research has shown that young people who participate in youth clubs are happier overall and less likely to drink alcohol and smoke (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2009).  Youth clubs encourage young people to be active members of society and reach their potential.  Donegal Youth Service have 21 affiliated youth clubs throughout the county which offer great opportunities for accredited training facilitated by DYS such as Youth Leadership and Personal Development training, child protection training, and a range of other activities in a fun, safe and secure environment.  For more information about any DYS affiliated youth clubs, their opening hours, activities, and associated training please contact Charlene Logue, DYS Youth Outreach Manager, charlene.logue@donegalyouthservice.ie or 0863817959

 

To see where Foroige Clubs are across Donegal please just click on this link : http://parenthubdonegal.ie/services/listings/?search_keywords=foroige&search_region=0&search_categories%5B%5D=&search_context=831#s=1

 

Citizenship

As a parent you may already be involved in contributing to your own community by way of volunteering in your local GAA club or simply bag packing in the local supermarket for the local special needs group. Being active in your community takes both commitment and time.  We also know that being active in your community can bring personal benefits.  For young people they can see themselves as having a positive role to play in society, they gain recognition from the community which greatly increases their self-confidence while also learning new skills and improving the quality of life for themselves and others.  We encourage young people to start off small, e.g. by volunteering with the Tidy Towns committee at an event or doing some messages for an elderly neighbour.

If you would more information on how young people can become involved in a Citizenship project in their area contact Susan McLoughlin in Foróige 086 6064291

Leadership programme

Foróige’s Leadership for Life Programme is a personal leadership development programme aimed at equipping young people with skills to explore their vision and passion, and to develop key skills such as planning, decision making, critical thinking, goal setting and problem solving that are core to leadership. The programme is run with a group 15-18 year olds over three modules.  Young people having completed all modules have the opportunity to graduate with a Foundation Certificate in Youth Leadership and Community Action from NUI Galway.

If you think your son/daughter would be interested contact Susan McLoughlin 086 6064291

Youth Entrepreneurship

Foróige’s youth entrepreneurship programme, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), is a cutting edge, world recognised, education and development programme. Originally from the United States of America, the programme was brought to Ireland in 2004 and is now currently operating in 70 sites across Ireland.

The programme helps young people reach their potential, build their self-confidence, increase their school college and career aspirations, develop their interest in business to become future entrepreneurs and provide them with an opportunity to have a real-life business learning experience.

If you would more information on how young people can become involved in a NFTE programme contact Susan McLoughlin in Foróige 086 6064291

Worldwide Voices

 Donegal Youth Service’s Worldwide Voices project developed through their long history of engaging with young people from ethnic minority backgrounds.  This group gives young people from all backgrounds in Donegal a platform to express themselves through music, sports, and politics.  This project encourages young people to get involved in all aspects of the service, and aims to aid integration and connection in Donegal.  Contact Frankie McGreevy on 074 91 29630 for more information or to refer a young person.

Young Carers

A young carer is a young person whose life is affected by providing significant care, assistance, or support to a relative at home. Sometimes these duties of caring begin to impact other aspects of a young person’s life, like school, work, time spent with friends and hobbies.  Donegal Youth Service run a Young Carers’ Project for young people aged 12-24 which gives peer, and one-to-one support, respite and fun activities, school support and training.  Contact Frankie McGreevy on 074 91 29630 for more information or to refer a young person.

 

 

 

 

Bullying and Cyberbullying

Bullying has become an increasingly common issue among young people.  Once you become aware that your son/daughter is being bullied then it should be addressed for the safety and welfare of the young person.  Likewise if your son/daughter is the bully it needs to be addressed and stopped.  There are lots of websites available that provide helpful tips and resources for you as a parent.

Foróige Against Bullying (F.A.B.) programme explores issues of bullying and support young people to develop the skills needed to deal to with bullying. After completing the programme young people will be able to recognise and deal with bullying behaviour in a positive way.

For more information contact Susan McLoughlin 086 6064291

Useful Link: http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Teenagers_coping_with_bullying_d5.pdf

Cyberbullying & Internet Safety

A 2015 survey revealed that one in four Irish teenagers have experienced cyberbullying.  This form of bullying can have a particularly devastating effect on young people, and due to the nature of it young people often feel like there is no escape from it.  It can take place in many different ways and across many different platforms such as by text, e-mail, Facebook, Snapchat and other social media sites and apps.

It can be difficult to know if your child is being cyber-bullied, or is bullying someone else online as there are often no witnesses to the bullying.  There is however some signs that parents/guardians can look out for so a possible issue can be addressed.  If your child seems nervous or distressed when they receive a text, instant message etc, or depressed after spending time online or on their phone, and if they become reluctant to socialise or leave the house.

With so many new apps and websites appearing all the time it can be hard to keep up, but there are some tips to minimise the risk.  Place the family computer in an open area in your home, openly discuss privacy settings with your young people, make sure their online profiles don’t include any personal information, and monitor their internet use.  The most important thing is to have an open dialogue about internet safety and cyberbullying, and to make sure they know they can ask for help if they need it.

Donegal Youth Service offer one-to-one support for young people and parents who have concerns about cyberbullying and internet safety, as well as seminars and age appropriate workshops for young people, schools, youth groups, teachers and parents.  For more information contact Gareth Gibson, Youth Information Manager on 074 91 29630

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:

http://www.drugs.ie/resourcesfiles/guides/DealingWithDrugUse.pdf

http://www.askaboutalcohol.ie/Parents/top-10-tips-for-parents/top-10-tips-for-parents.html

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.