Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Youth workers and teachers lack alcohol education support

Children and Young People Now:

Three-fifths of professionals working with under-18s do not have the support and information they need to provide education about alcohol, according to a report by charity Drinkaware.

The Telegraph also have the story:

On average, teenagers said that they had their first drink at 13 and were just 14 the first time they became properly drunk.

The teenagers were less concerned about getting drunk than about leaving education without any qualifications, having unsafe sex or taking recreational drugs, the survey, by the charity Drinkaware, which is funded by the alcohol industry, found.

Drinkaware have a press release and a number of videos, one of which I’ve embedded below.

Filed under: alcohol

Fathers’ Alcohol Use and Substance Use among Adolescents

Ahead of Father’s Day this weekend the US government have published findings which link father’s drinking habbits to their children’s substance use.

They argue:

Alcohol use among fathers, even at levels not sufficient to warrant a diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder, is associated with several substance use behaviors and disorders among the adolescent children who live with them. These findings highlight the continuing need to educate fathers, mothers, and family support systems professionals about the potential impact of paternal alcohol use on adolescent substance use. In addition, these findings suggest the importance of providing treatment for fathers with alcohol use disorders and family support services for children of these fathers.

Filed under: alcohol, parents, USA

Divorces cause children to turn to alcohol

The Telegraph publish findings from a survey which suggests that divorce causes the children caught up in the middle to turn to alcohol:

Couples who use youngsters as “emotional footballs” during custody battles can leave children so traumatised that a third seek solace in drugs or alcohol, according to a poll of 2,000 people.

This seems to fit in with the findings from the American research we covered the other day which looked at high conflict families.

Filed under: alcohol, parents

Cocaine + Alcohol = Cocaethylene

Drink and Drug News take a look at the winners of the Frank awards, which has been trying to educate students in Nottingham about the dangers of using cocaine and alcohol together:

The campaign’s overall intention – alongside alerting people to the dangers of cocaethylene – was to deglamourise the drug for its target audience. ‘The reality is that you’re in some khazi, snorting cocaine, hiding from the bouncers, and it’s really not very glamourous. It’s a grubby drug and its impact on the user and the people around them can be catastrophic. This isn’t about telling people what they should and shouldn’t be doing – it’s about offering information and provoking debate, producing information to help change attitudes and behaviour.

‘Young people experiment with drugs, whether it’s a rite of passage or whatever,’’ he continues. ‘People have to make their minds up – at no point in our leaflets does it say “you shouldn’t take cocaine”. The fact is that drugs meet people’s needs – this campaign is trying to understand what’s in it for the user as well. If the first time people took cocaine it made them feel terrible no one would take it, so it’s very much about trying to strike a balance and hopefully this has. Certainly the feedback is that it did.’

Read the whole story here and download the resources from here.

Filed under: alcohol, cocaine, university

“You never see pictures of nice people having a nice drink and not getting hammered.”

The Guardian has a story about what young people think about the way they’re portrayed in the media in relation to alcohol.  Understandably they don’t always recognise themselves in the papers. but it appears they do have concerns about how alcohol is being used by their peers and parents:

While the majority feel that media portrayals of blitzed high streets are a gross exaggeration, a straw poll revealed that many have friends whose drinking and destructive behaviour worried them. With startling honesty, one panellist described the death of a friend. And many said that they copied their parents, which meant using or abusing alcohol to drown their sorrows or cope with pressures.

Here’s what they are reported saying about alcohol education:

The participants all thought schools needed to improve alcohol education and that they needed consistent messages.

Jack One said that his education stressed the negative aspects of alcohol from the age of 12, with the only realistic talk coming from a police officer. “He said: ‘We know you are going to drink and take drugs but do it somewhere quiet, do it nicely. If you do get drunk, call us. We will help.'”

Nicola had only been given a one-hour chat at school and felt she needed more, whereas Frankie got no advice until about 16: “By that time everyone had done it.”

One young woman goes on to say that hearing from an alcoholic made a big impression on her, but others say that advice on the harms that alcohol can do are often shrugged off because “it always seemed it couldn’t happen to them.”

Peer education is perceived positively, but the messages about alcohol shouldn’t be about prohibition, and need to recognise that young people will make mistakes.  One of the participants says:

“We are known as a generation of cottonwool kids, wrapped up. We have everything. But young people need to learn to make their own mistakes. They need to do what they want and if it goes wrong, even at 13, the majority will learn by them.”

Filed under: alcohol, drug education

Teenage Summer Binge Drinking Campaign

The government have announced a fund of £1.4 million which will be spent over 69 areas to tackle young people’s drinking in public.

The press release says that the government are expecting local partnerships to develop a 3 point plan of how they will spend the money.  These points must include:

  • Tough enforcement – confiscating alcohol, using dispersal powers to break up groups of young people getting drunk and causing trouble and behaviour contracts to hold them to account;
  • Early intervention and support – giving young people one-to-one support, and youth services working with families to address underlying reasons for young people’s behaviour, using parenting contracts and orders to support parents;
  • Communicating to the local community – making it clear to the public what is being done to tackle drunk and disorderly behaviour by young people.

Responding to the announcement Eric Carlin, chair of the Drug Education Forum said:

We support anything that prevents young people being harmed by using alcohol or drugs.

But we do think that local partnerships must work with young people and their families to address young people’s use of alcohol and this must be about prevention as well as enforcement.

We urge the government to make sure that there is proper evaluation of the scheme and to ensure that what happens this summer is followed up by education and support in the autumn.

Filed under: alcohol, Government

Too Much Too Young?

Too Much Too YoungThe London Assembly’s Health and Public Services Committee has published their report into young Londoners drinking.

As you would expect there’s been media interest.

But as James Cleaverly, the Chair of the committee, says in his foreword to the report:

Shock headlines and lurid photographs of young men and women incapacitated through drink are great for selling newspapers but what is the truth behind the headlines? Without a sound knowledge base, policies and initiatives will at best be effective only by luck and at worst counter-productive.

The report goes on to detail what the committee were able to find out.

  • Young people in the capital are less likely to drink, and less likely to get drunk than young people elsewhere in the country.
  • More than a third (35 per cent) of Londoners aged 11-21 drank regularly in 2005-06.
  • Londoners aged 11-15 now drink around 307,391 units of alcohol a week
  • 11-15 year old women now have similar drinking habits to young men of the same age.
  • Around 80 to 90 per cent of 17-21 year olds have ever had an alcoholic drink, compared to 15 per cent of 11 year olds and 60 per cent of 15 year olds.
  • In 2005-07, ten per cent of Pakistani and 12 per cent of Bangladeshi young people drank at least once a year (up from 4% and 2% respectively in 2001-04).
  • Alcohol-specific hospital admissions for 11-21 year old Londoners have almost doubled in recent years. In 2006, there were 1315 hospital admissions for 11-21 year olds, compared to 690 in 2002 – an increase of 91 per cent.
  • The alcohol-specific hospital admission rate for young women (at 14.0 admissions per 10,000) was almost twice as high as the rate for young men of the same age (at 7.4 admissions per 10,000).
  • In 2003, there were 1,272 incidents where 11-21 year olds were accused of alcohol–related offences, compared to 2,370 in 2007; nearly double.
  • Underage drinking was the least frequently reported issue in a survey on alcohol-related disorder conducted with community safety staff in London boroughs.

Alcohol Education

The report makes 9 recommendations about a range of actions, which I’ll reproduce below, but I want to focus on what the report says about alcohol education.

They say:

Education can help to change attitudes and increase knowledge about alcohol. Education can also help to challenge misconceptions – for example young people frequently overestimate how many of their peers drink and how much they drink.

The committee were told by the young people they surveyed that there isn’t enough alcohol education in school and had suggestions on how it should be changed:

The young people we spoke to felt that alcohol education should be improved in three key ways. Firstly, they would like to learn about alcohol and its effects in more depth. Secondly, they felt that education should focus more on how to stay safe with alcohol, through, for example, learning what first aid to administer if a friend collapses because of alcohol. Thirdly, they felt that alcohol education should involve people who have been affected by alcohol problems, rather than relying on teachers.

The report goes on to recommend (see Recommendation 6, below) that when PSHE is made statutory that the curriculum places sufficient emphasis on alcohol, and that it should be taught with harm reduction as the desired outcome.

They were told by young people that FRANK had a good reputation amongst their peers which led them to recommend that a national public health campaign is run under that branding (see Recommendation 7, below).  They also want a regional public health campaign using social marketing techniques (see Recommendation 8, below).

The report argues that parents underestimate the damage that alcohol causes their young people, and lack information on the harms alcohol cause.  The committee welcome the draft guidance from the Chief Medical Officer and look forward to that advice being diseminated.


  1. The Greater London Alcohol and Drugs Alliance (GLADA) should monitor the alcohol consumption of young Londoners between 2009 and 2012 to assess whether recent increases in drinking among young women and among young Pakistani and Bangladeshi Londoners are part of ongoing trends.
  2. The Mayor should commission an immediate review of GLADA’s membership, resourcing and remit to ensure it can effectively implement the Regional Statement of Priorities for Alcohol and provide strong regional leadership on alcohol misuse.
  3. The Mayor should outline initiatives to tackle the disproportionate impact of alcohol on the health of people from deprived communities in his upcoming Health Inequalities Strategy.
  4. By March 2010, London boroughs where alcohol-specific hospital admissions for under-18s are higher than the national average (currently Kingston and Sutton) should appoint an alcohol harm reduction champion. This person should ensure that services to reduce alcohol harm are effectively coordinated, and should set a local performance target for reducing alcohol specific hospital admissions below the national average. A councillor would be well suited
    to this role.
  5. A London borough and local police service working with the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group should pilot the St Neots community alcohol partnership model to reduce alcohol misuse by under 18s during 2009/10. Representatives of both the on- and off-licence trade should be engaged in this partnership.
  6. The Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority should ensure that alcohol education is effectively covered in the mandatory PSHE curriculum, currently under development. Alcohol should be given the same prominence in this curriculum as drugs, and the focus should be on how to reduce alcohol harm. The curriculum should cover how and why alcohol tolerance varies between men and women. It should also include first aid techniques, so that young people know how to help in emergencies such as a friend collapsing because of alcohol.
  7. By June 2010, The Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Home Office should run a national FRANK campaign around alcohol that focuses on the consequences of drinking, and also promotes the information FRANK can provide about alcohol and localservices.
  8. By December 2010, GLADA should co-ordinate a Londonwide social marketing campaign that aims to reduce alcohol harm, in association with external partners. The campaign should target groups including parents and carers, young women aged 11-15 and young Pakistani and Bangladeshi Londoners. Consideration should be given to involving London role models to help spread the campaign’smessages.
  9. By March 2012, NHS London should ensure that Screening and Brief Intervention Initiatives are in place at every London Accident and Emergency Department, and available to adults and to young people. A detailed evaluation of the impact of Screening and Brief Interventions on young Londoners’ drinking behaviour should be conducted by March 2014.

Filed under: alcohol

Alcohol and Redundancy

Drinkaware have been in touch to let me know about some research they’ve been doing about how redundancy is affecting adult drinking patterns.  Their press release says:

People are turning to alcohol to relieve the stress caused by redundancy, according to new research launched by alcohol charity Drinkaware. One in 10 British adults, the equivalent of nearly five million people, has either been made redundant or knows someone who has been made redundant in the last six months and is drinking more as a result.  Being out of work also affects people’s drinking patterns with almost half (49%) of this group drinking more during the day.

It’s a bit off our normal path, but given that many of the adults being made redundant are likely to be parents it may be of interest to readers here.

Drinkaware have produced a guide for coping with redundancy which you can download here.

Filed under: alcohol, Drug Education Forum Members

Alcohol advertising self-regulation not working

Compare and contrast.

Addiction Journal:

Addiction scientists are calling for tighter regulation of alcohol advertising, as new research shows that self-regulation by the alcohol industry does not protect impressionable children and youth from exposure.

The ASA’s last annual report:

Evidence to date suggests that the current rules are a proportionate response to concerns about under-age drinking and they are being applied effectively. However, there is still work to do to limit the appeal of some alcohol ads to young people and the ASA continues to take these factors into account when assessing complaints.

It’s important to note that the research that leads for calls for tighter regulation took place in Australia and so I’m not sure whether the people who are calling for change are thinking about the UK’s regulatory regieme as being in the same league as what they found in Australia.

However, some of what they are proposing goes well beyond where the ASA appear to be contemplating.  These are the sorts of thing they say they want to see:

banning alcohol advertising during live sports programming; further restricting the times at which alcohol adverts can be broadcast; and banning animals and animal characters from alcohol advertising, with carefully controlled exceptions where an animal has traditionally been part of the brand’s logo.

Filed under: advertising, alcohol

Know Your Limits – Street Dares

The government have launched a new Know Your Limits campaign.  The Home Office’s press release gives a flavour of what they’re trying to achieve:

The centrepiece of this year’s Know Your Limits campaign is a new internet viral advert which shows footage of people’s sober reactions when asked to behave as they would if drunk.

A presenter asks members of the public to smear vomit on themselves, pinch a stranger’s bum and fight. His demands escalate to glassing another person and throwing a bin through a window. The advert captures people’s expressions when confronted with what some people will do when they’re drunk.

Here’s the video:

Filed under: alcohol, Government, Know Your Limits

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

del.icio.us links

DrugScope’s Search Engine

July 2021