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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

What to do if you suspect your kids have a drug problem


Kirsten Cleland

Photo: Fiona Hamilton

“A significant number of young people we see at Headspace have substance-abuse or misuse issues. Alcohol and marijuana are the most prevalent substances, and we also see a little cocaine and ecstasy.

“Ice use is becoming more problematic. We see kids who were battling mental-health issues like depression and anxiety and now they have ice use, too, and some are turning to sex work and crime to pay for that. I’ve heard kids say that they’ve been given ice for free, not realising that sooner or later the people giving them their free ice will want something in return. People are making it available to kids to suck them into using it and then they hit them up for money or sex.

“For the 12 to 14-year-olds, it’s a time of experimentation. For the slightly older group, things happen when they’ve been intoxicated that they are embarrassed and ashamed of, like their behaviour or having unprotected sex. The 17-plus age group are using more and more alcohol and substances to get through the day. They’re binge drinking on weekends and using whatever they can get their hands on with school friends or social groups outside school. After a couple of appointments here, when they feel comfortable, they may tell us they’ve been drinking until they black out, that there are photos of them floating around that they don’t recall or that they lost their virginity because they were drunk.
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