Being a young person can be difficult. Fact. There are so many choices to make, as well as lots of physical, intellectual, emotional, and social concerns to deal with, from friendships (and more intimate relationships) to decisions about education, training or work. Some of the biggest dilemmas can be about whether to smoke, drink alcohol or try drugs, with different messages being received from school, friends, parents, community and the media.
Here are 12 Tips for talking to young people about drugs and alcohol.
They are not exhaustive, but hopefully will help you to provide sessions that are engaging and educational, as well as thought provoking and fun:
1. Be prepared and informed
Even the most knowledgeable drug support worker is likely to admit that no one can know it all.
4. You cannot stop young people taking drugs
but you can help make sure that they have the information, skills and confidence to make healthy choices for themselves.
7. Accept that people make mistakes
Whilst youth workers can support young people if they make bad choices, they cannot stop them making them.
10. Consider cultural differences
both within the staff group and young people.
2. Don’t make assumptions
Lots of teenagers pretend to be far more knowledgeable or experienced on the subject of drugs than they actually are.
to young people’s opinions and concerns.
8. Only give out correct information
If you don’t know something, say so and offer to find out!
11. Consider gender differences
Young men and women often have different reasons for their decisions about whether to experiment with smoking, alcohol or drugs.
3. Avoid using scare tactics
They are unlikely to work and are more likely to put young people off engaging.
6. Remain non-judgmental
You may have strong feelings about drugs and alcohol, but before you share your personal opinion consider how useful that is to someone else.
9. Set clear boundaries
When talking about drugs with young people, remind them of your professional boundaries and the fact that some things cannot be kept secret.
12. Evaluate and review
Make sure that feedback from young people offers you more than, ‘I had a good time’.
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