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A drug is any natural or synthetic substance that can be used to treat illness or to enhance or alter your physical and psychological states. Drug types include:
Drugs and alcohol are familiar to most of us and are common place in Australian culture. Less than one quarter (23.8%) of teenagers had ever used an illicit drug, while 22% report drinking at risky levels in the last month. Most young people will be exposed to issues relating to alcohol and drug use at some stage and need to make decisions about these matters.
Young people contact Kids Helpline about a range of concerns relating to alcohol and other drugs, including:
How can counselling help?
Kids Helpline works with young people dealing with drug and alcohol concerns every day. Counsellors at Kids Helpline believe it is important for young people to be able to talk freely about these concerns without feeling judged. Counselling can be a way to help you:
Counsellors at Kids Helpline think it’s important to explore a caller’s situation and other circumstances that may affect their decision or concerns about drug and alcohol use.
At Kids Helpline counsellors like to get a good idea from callers of what all the risks and benefits are with respect to each different drug or substance they may be using. This helps get an understanding of what makes that particular person decide to use and how this may impact on them.
The following are the kinds of questions counsellors sometimes ask callers who are wanting to change their use of substances, you might like to start considering these questions.
What do you get out of alcohol and drug use?
People usually use alcohol and other drugs because they feel it benefits them in some way.
Identifying the ‘benefits’ of using any particular substance can help you understand more about yourself and your motivation.
What are the ‘not so good things’ about using?
We’ve talked about some of the positive effects of drug or alcohol use, however, it is also well known that alcohol and drug use has negative consequences. Statistics show that one in every four hospital admissions of 15 – 25 year olds happen because of alcohol. Also, one in every two young people aged 15 -17 have done something they regret when drunk. Furthermore, some drugs have serious health consequences and can be highly addictive.
Other consequences to consider include:
It helps to understand the effect substance use has on all areas of your life and to be realistic in weighing up the negative consequences against the benefits.
What do you want your future to look like?
When you think about what you want in life either in the short or long term, how does alcohol or drug use fit in? Does your use impact in any way on things you want to achieve? You might want to get a job, go to university or start a family. How does alcohol or drug use impact on these dreams and goals and is there anything you’d like to change?
There are always risks involved in taking drugs and alcohol. By now you may have considered what these are and their impact, as well as the reasons why you choose to use them. Understanding this is very helpful.
If you decide that you are not going to change using for now, below are some things you can do to help minimise some of the risks associated with using:
Chikritzhs, T. and Pascal, R. (2004) Trends in Youth Alcohol Consumption and Related Harms in Australian Jurisdictions, 1990 - 2002. Bulletin No. 6. National Drug Research Institute.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2008. 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: first results. Drug Statistics Series number 20.Cat. no. PHE 98. Canberra: AIHW.
Last Reviewed March 2015