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I’m not trying to be popular, I’m trying to be a parent

Teens Drinking

Image is for illustrative purposes.

Sarah*, 42, has two children. Megan* is 16 and Matthew* is 14. They have both gone to parties where alcohol and drugs are present.

My mum often tells me that she’s so glad she doesn’t have to be a parent to teenagers now. She says it’s so much more complicated these days because of Facebook, texting, drugs and drink. There are so many more opportunities for kids to go down the wrong path and I think mum’s right.

Being a parent to teenagers is stressful and it can be so hard to keep up to date with who their friends are, where they’re going after school or at the weekend, who they’re spending time with, whose party they are going to and who else will be at that party. Read more

No such thing as safe drug-taking for kids

Prof George Braitberg  Royal Melbourne Hospital trauma ward

Prof George Braitberg Royal Melbourne Hospital trauma ward

I’ve looked after a patient of 14 or 15 who had one of the highest blood alcohol levels I’ve seen – he was 0.5 – 10 times the legal limit for driving. When he arrived at hospital he was unconscious and needed a couple of days in ICU attached to a ventilator.

I think the age at which young people begin experimenting with drugs has dropped, and that started with the advent of pills, such as ecstasy, when kids were looking to supplement the pleasurable experience at rave parties. Young people don’t want to take anything that involves a needle, so the proliferation of pills has made drugs more accessible for them. But these pills are not safe. They’re not made by pharmacists and usually have contaminants – other drugs and bulking agents such as starch that may create a reaction. Read more

A Parents Guide to Ecstasy

Teenage Girl Buying Drugs On The Street From Dealer

Used for illustrative purposes only, the person depicted in this image is a model.

Ecstasy is relatively easily obtained on the street or at parties and raves; tablets can cost as little as $20 each.

Unlike the 1970s and 1980s, when some of today’s parents were teenagers and illicit drugs were deep underground, today’s teens need only attend a music event or ask around to find ecstasy and other drugs. They can also use underground websites that sell illegal substances of all kinds.

Ecstasy is usually swallowed as a pill. The pills come in different colours and sizes and are often imprinted with a picture or symbol.

Ecstasy is a stimulant containing the drug MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine). However, many pills sold as ecstasy only have a small amount of MDMA or none at all. Read more

A Parents Guide to Heroin

Heroin Drugs 101By Cheryl Critchley

Heroin use is not common among Australian teenagers; latest figures reveal only 1.6 per cent of high-school students have used opiates or narcotics such as heroin or morphine other than for medical reasons.

Heroin is a depressant and belongs to a group of drugs known as “opioids” that are derived from the opium poppy. It comes in different forms, including fine white powder, coarse off-white granules and tiny pieces of light brown “rock”.

Heroin is usually injected into a vein, but it can also be smoked (“chasing the dragon”) and added to cigarettes and cannabis. The effects are usually felt straight away. If snorted, it takes 10 to 15 minutes to take effect. Read more

A Parents Guide to Inhalants

By Cheryl Critchley

Inhalants Drugs 101
Sniffing inhalants such as glue, petrol and aerosols is a cheap and dangerous way for young people to achieve a “high”.

The substances used are often affordable and easily obtained. About 17 per cent of Australian high-school students has used inhalants, making them more popular than individual illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine and ice. These substances can seriously affect or even kill if an overdose occurs.

Essentially, inhalants are common household, industrial and medical products that produce vapours that can be inhaled to produce a “high”. Common inhalants include aerosol sprays, spray paint and paint thinner, felt-tipped pens, correction fluid, gas from lighters or barbecues (butane), cleaning fluid, glue, petrol and nitrous oxide.

The use of inhalants is more common in younger children than older children. Read more

Teach your kids to make safe decisions

Alan Eade The Paramedic

Alan Eade is an intensive-care paramedic based in Melbourne’s CBD. Photo: Fiona Hamilton

A 20-year veteran of the ambulance service, paramedic Alan Eade attends incidents every week involving young people affected by drugs or alcohol.

Around midnight last night we were called to help a 14–year–old boy on the city streets. He and some other teenagers did a snatch-and-run at a bottle shop. He consumed quite a bit of alcohol in a short space of time and became intoxicated. Police saw him and called an ambulance.

He wasn’t life-threateningly unwell and he hadn’t run away from home either but he was taken to a children’s hospital where he could safely sleep off the alcohol and be supervised while he recovered. Since I began this job alcohol has always been present but it was unusual in the under–14s. Now we see children in single-digit years drinking alcohol on a regular basis. It’s more prevalent in a wider group of young people. Read more

A Parents Guide to Amphetamines

Amphetamine Drugs 101By Cheryl Critchley

Highly addictive and extremely dangerous, problem amphetamines such as ice are becoming more common.

Ice is a highly addictive form of amphetamine known as methamphetamine. It is stronger than the powdered form of amphetamine, speed. Usage rates by Australian teenagers are generally low, but pockets of Melbourne and regional Victoria face growing ice-related problems, both physical and social. Drug overdose deaths and ambulance attendances involving ice have risen in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria in the past two years.

While the use of amphetamines as a whole has not increased, more people are using it in the potent crystal methamphetamine form (ice), which produces strong highs very quickly and can be highly addictive. This is causing growing concern among police and medical professionals, as those using ice can become extremely
violent and have been known to attack ambulance officers trying to help them. They may also commit violent crimes. Read more

Don’t think this couldn’t happen to your child. It can.

Felicity is Nick's mum

Used for illustrative purposes only, the person depicted in this image is a model.

Earlier in Nick’s life we didn’t realise he had dyslexia and other learning difficulties. He was in a supposedly top school in the state but they weren’t interested in helping him. He was put in the ‘too hard’ basket and was ostracised. And Nick felt that. In hindsight, that’s when all the trouble began …

I didn’t realise for quite a long time that when I dropped Nick at the school gate he’d walk out the back gate and spend the day smoking marijuana with his friends. Then he started arriving home from school a little later and a little later. Four o’clock became five o’clock and then 9 or 10pm. I’d drive around the streets looking for him. Read more

Can ice’s grip on Geelong be broken?

Superintendent Daryl Clifton.

Superintendent Daryl Clifton. Photo: Reg Ryan

Superintendent Daryl Clifton, division commander of Barwon South-Western Region and 40-year veteran of Victoria Police is helping mobilise the local community and break the grip of ice in the Geelong and Barwon regions.

I have been in the police force for 40 years, and during that time I’ve seen different drugs come and go. But in my 40 years I’ve never seen anything like ice. In Australia, the drug is so pure and so it affects people’s behaviour and judgment and their thinking. If you took a shot of heroin it would more than likely put you to sleep in the corner – but not ice. Ice is an upper, a methamphetamine in the same family as ecstasy and speed. When people go on an ice binge they become violent and irrational. Read more

It’s so easy to use when you’re with mates

Young Adult lighting a marijuana Joint in the dark

Used for illustrative purposes only, the person depicted in this image is a model.

I was about 12 when I began smoking a little bit of pot. I began drinking too and occasionally I tried speed. I never fitted into school and I found a pair of mates who were the same and we’d use with each other. It’s hard to explain why I started but I suppose I relied on these things to make me feel better. When I got too many thoughts in my head – happy or sad – I’d try and wash them out with drugs.

I started smoking pot more often in the week and doing crazy things on the weekend. By the time I was 13 or 14 I was using pot every day and drinking and popping pills and I was in and out of different schools.

In early 2012 I got a job working with my family. I’d only smoke pot during the week but would go really crazy at the weekends – coke, amphetamines, methamphetamines … I got prescribed benzos as well. Whatever I could get, really. Read more