Schools to dump ‘just say no’ program on drugs, booze’ (Herald-Sun)

[“Permissibility, availability and accessibility – all increase consumption.” Dalgarno Institute.]

Is the Victorian State Government really abandoning the option of a) informing young people of the best practice option of abstinence? Or b) Empowering young people to have the ability of not having to take up alcohol at a young age? Really!?

If it is, then not only is the emerging generation in trouble, but the Government is ignoring even the conservative advice of the NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) alcohol consumption guidelines of which guideline three states… For children and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option – Parents and carers should be advised that children under 15 years of age are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking and that for this age group, not drinking alcohol is especially important. Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) education must focus on promoting the Not Having To option as there is NO safe limited of alcohol (or other drug) consumption for the developing brain, which is doing so until about 23 to 25 years of age. To reference Professor Rob Moodie – ‘to the developing brain – every drink does it damage.’
Reporter Amy Oliver of the UK’s Daily Mail, quoting new research published in the Lancet only this April, stating…

“Too young to cope? Scientists have discovered people don’t become true adults until they’re 24. But the research suggests the adolescent brain is ill-equipped to deal with the effects of drinking and drug-taking and less able to assess risk. As a result more adolescents die from injury caused by accidents where, often unnecessary or excessive risks were taken, than anything else…”

The imperative of AOD Education cannot simply be managing the aftermath of consumption – it must be maximising the ability of the most vulnerable of our community to resist the pressure to take up alcohol or other drugs in the first place.

The keys to AOD education in the schools are three fold… a) Good solid and well backed research b) Information delivered/packaged in an engaging pedagogy and most importantly c) addressing the predicative issues that inform alcohol and other drug uptake. When you help students fully comprehend not only the issue of substances themselves, but more the ‘why’ of uptake/use, then you have an excellent starting point.

However, underpinning all this work is the issue of resiliency. The key factor that needs to be addressed is the falling resiliency of an emerging generation that is often bullied by a technocracy lead egocentric hedonism and a growing disconnect from sustainable meaning and nurturing functional relationships/models.

AOD education for the young cannot be conducted in isolation from community values/behaviours either. It is imperative that the message to the emerging adult is not one of ‘oh you’re going to do it like a grown up, so let’s help you become one of us’. Rather it must be an adult population that models care and value for the young person, giving them the best opportunity and example to experience a substance free adolescence and a shot at not having to become a lifelong user of alcohol or any other drug for that matter.

The Dalgarno Institute and its growing coalition have been delivering successful AOD education based on these principles for years, all whilst continuing to promote the idea of abstinence as not only a viable and attractive, but ultimately best option.

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