Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Working Together To Reduce Harm

The new Welsh drug strategy is out.  It is outside our geographical remit as the Forum, but useful to be aware of.

Aims

Welsh Drug Strategy

Welsh Drug Strategy

Reducing the harm to individuals (particularly children and young people), their families and wider communities from the misuse of drugs and alcohol, whilst not stigmatising substance misusers.

Improving the availability and quality of education, prevention and treatment services and related support, with a greater priority given than under the previous strategy to those related to alcohol.

Making better use of resources – supporting evidenced based decision making, improving treatment outcomes, developing the skills base of partners and service providers by giving a greater focus to workforce development and joining up agencies and services more effectively in line with ‘Making the Connections’.

Embedding the core Welsh Assembly Government values of sustainability, equality and diversity, support for the Welsh language and developing user focused services and a rights basis for children and young people in both the development and delivery of the strategy.

Children and Young People

This strategy recognises that there needs to be a continued emphasis in prevention work with children and young people both in relation to alcohol and other substances covered by this strategy. This includes early engagement with parents before problems have arisen. Although all the signs are that overall frequent drug use among young people has fallen over the past 10 years, use of Class A drugs has remained stable (Annex 1 refers). In contrast, however, the damage caused to young people’s health and the wider community from violence and anti-social behaviour as a result of the misuse of alcohol is increasing. The number of teenage pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases are also linked to the increase in
alcohol use amongst young people. Whilst suicide in children under 15 years of age is extremely rare, young people who misuse substances are at greater risk of suicide or self harm than the general population. Social services departments are also reporting instances of children being sexually exploited as a result of their own or their parents’ substance misuse.

 School Based Education and Support

Any education programme aimed at children and young people must begin by seeking to raise the awareness of the risk of substance misuse. We want children and young people to acquire the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to make informed choices when they encounter illegal drugs and legal substances such as alcohol, tobacco, medicines and volatile substances. School is a key arena where the behaviour of young people can be informed and influenced. Schools also provide a structured environment where individuals at risk of exclusion because of their own or parental substance misuse can be identified and helped.

Studies show that effective education programmes are skills-based, use interactive teaching styles to motivate participants, include normative techniques which show that drug use among peers is not as widespread as young people think, and involve other components such as work with parents and families, the wider community, health professionals and the media.

 This section includes more about targeting and protecting those at greatest risk and school based counselling.

Co-ordinating action on school-based prevention

At national level we will establish a substance misuse education steering group of experts and key stakeholders to monitor the delivery of this element of the strategy. The group will oversee the further development of substance misuse education, prevention and advice provision in schools and other educational settings.

Role of Parents and Carers

Parents and carers have a huge influence over their children’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviours and they are a key audience for messages and
initiatives. Many young people drink alcohol that has been bought for them by adults. Nearly half of underage drinkers reported that they obtained their alcohol from their parents; compared to friends (28 per cent) and pubs or bars (22 per cent). Awareness raising for parents and carers of the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol and the use of illegal and other drugs is therefore vital if we are to ensure that children do not begin early use of alcohol. Parents need accessible guidance about what is and what is not safe and sensible in the light of the latest available evidence from the UK and abroad and what help and support is available to both themselves and their children. For that reason, we will provide advice to parents about appropriate age-related alcohol consumption in young people.

With a few exceptions, schools do not currently involve parents when planning or delivering substance misuse prevention programmes. We intend to work with partners to consider ways to engage parents in the prevention work with children of school age. A programme is being piloted by Gwent Police which involves engaging the parents of pupils of primary school age around issues of substance misuse. The findings from this pilot and the evaluation of the parental element of the Blueprint drugs education programme in England will then be considered by the Education Steering Group. The Supporting Families Action Area of this strategy considers how we can support parents who are struggling to cope with their own or their children’s substance misuse and its impact on the family.

They also address the issues of those children not in school, those older young people who are not in employment, education or training, and diversionary activities.

 

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Filed under: drug strategy, Wales,

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