There are many websites that provide information on alcohol and other drug issues. Unfortunately, many of the sites available originate from organisations that have strong views on the issue and are not particularly balanced. Some sites are pro-drug and advocate for the legalisation of drugs, whereas others are extremely conservative and promote a strong abstinence message.
It is important that you are able to access accurate and up-to-date information so that you can make up your own mind about this highly controversial topic.
Useful Websites for Parents
Alcohol. Think Again: This is a great web-based campaign/resource that comes from the WA Government. There is so much information here that it is almost overwhelming. They have recently updated the site and it is so much easier to find the Parents section … well worth a look!
Parenting Strategies: Preventing Adolescent Alcohol Misuse: A work in progress, this unique site asks visitors to complete a survey and then provides them with feedback on their parenting style. Developed by a team of researchers, this is a great way for them to collect data and at the same time assist parents through that difficult time known as adolescence.
Drinkwise: An industry-funded organisation that attracts a great deal of criticism from some in the public health field. That said, this website provides some information about alcohol that you’re just not going to find anywhere else, particularly around parenting and alcohol and the developing brain.
Drugs and Me: This is a harm reduction site that provides accurate and up-to-date information on the short and long-term effects of a range of drugs. Put together by a group of “scientists, pedagogists and policy analysts with extensive experience in drug education”, they have produced a great little resource for parents to help them talk to their children about alcohol and illicit drugs. Due to its harm reduction focus it may not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ but it is extremely practical and offers some wonderful advice for parents on how to deal with this often confronting issue.
The Kids Are Allright: Basically a site where ‘parents assist parents’ to navigate the teenage years by providing information, articles and, most importantly, a supportive online community where you can share advice and share the load. Not specifically alcohol and other drugs, but extremely useful nevertheless.
Parenting Influences on Adolescent Alcohol Use: Trying to pull together all the available research on the influence of parents on adolescent alcohol use, this 2004 report does a really great job. Relatively easy to read and not too dense, it endeavours to answer a number of key questions, including: Should parents delay adolescents’ introduction to alcohol? What role do parents play in guiding responsible alcohol use? Which interventions have been demonstrated to work, and how widely available are these in Australia? Well worth a read!
Parent Action on Drugs (PAD): A Canadian organization set up by parents in the 1980s that has developed some pretty useful resources aimed at not only parents, but a range of other groups, including teachers and young people. This link takes you to the Parents section of the site that house a number of great resources including An Early Start: Drug Education Begins at Home which has been written for parents of children up to age seven.
Your Choice: Information for Parents: Part of a NSW Police Force alcohol diversion program for underage drinkers and their families, provides really valuable information for parents, particularly around the law. It is NSW-based but the principles are basically the same in all jurisdictions as far as secondary supply is concerned. There are lots of videos that parents can watch on a whole range of topics including facts around parenting and alcohol, safe party strategies for parents hosting events and much more. The videos can be a tad long in some cases but the site as a whole is well worth a look. There’s even an interactive video quiz for parents to go through (also a bit too long) but those interested in the area should get a lot out if it!
Secondary Supply Laws FAQs: With secondary supply laws being introduced in WA in 2015 many parents struggle with understanding what these mean in practical terms. The Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor in that state have produced a really useful set of FAQs that answer many of the questions that parents have. Although laws vary slightly across all jurisdictions, anyone interested in secondary supply laws and what ‘supply’ can mean in terms of holding a party or gathering should take a look at this valuable resource.
SDERA – Parents: SDERA is the WA government’s primary drug and road safety education strategy for young people. Although not particularly comprehensive, the parents’ section on its website does have links to some useful fact sheets developed for parents of specific ages (i.e., early years and primary years). Interested parents can also request to receive an electronic newsletter that can often contain some really useful information.
Useful Websites or Web-based Resources for Teachers
Challenges and Choices: Developed by SDERA, this program currently for Years 7-9 (with the Year 10 program coming soon) takes a resilience approach to drug education. Without a doubt one of the most comprehensive resources currently available, the program “aims to develop students’ awareness of the possible harmful effects of drug use and acquire skills needed to help them make informed decisions and manage drug-related situations”. Each year level includes two components – the Teacher Resource and a student workbook. This has so many great activities and is really nicely presented – well worth a look!
Clearing the Cloud: This is a really useful portal developed by the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use which contains a range of “proven and new online prevention and treatment programs”.
Parent Guides: This not-for-profit organisation has produced a number of resources beginning with Drugs 101 in 2015. School communities can purchase these valuable resources as they are, or they can be tailored for specific schools with particular needs. They have recently produced their fourth guide (Sex and Social Media were the others) – Mental Health 101. This guide, like all the others, contains up-to-date and accurate information, well-designed graphics, and, most importantly, a wide range of tips for parents. Schools looking for a resource with a difference need look no further …
Pure Rush: Online Drug Education Game: Computer games are not ‘my thing’ and so I found this extremely difficult to work out what you actually have to do, but talking to young people who have used it, they have been reasonably impressed. Players have to get to a music festival and as they move through different fields they are provided with some basic information about the negative effects of illegal drugs. Developed by the NHRME’s Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health it could be a useful supplementary resource for specialist teachers.
Drug Education Booklets for Teachers, Parents and Students: Located on the Clearing the Cloud portal, these booklets contain evidence-based information on illegal drugs tailored for specific audiences. The booklets were funded by the Australian Government which can be extremely problematic. As with any sensitive and controversial area, you can be limited in what you can say and the resulting product can be viewed by some as unbalanced and propaganda. That said, the authors have done a great job considering the obvious limitations they had and the booklets provide some really useful information for all three target groups.
Mentor-Alcohol and Drug Education Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS): This is a UK website but without a doubt it is one of the best web-based resources for any teacher who delivers drug education to young people. There’s so much here that it could take a fair while to get through it all and unfortunately that may put some people off but the ‘Resources‘ section is likely to be the most useful. This contains a series of bulletins on a range of topics that have been specifically developed for schools. Some of the more interesting ones examine ‘legal highs’, e-cigarettes and caffeine and energy drinks. The site has been written with a UK audience in mind but it still incredibly useful for teachers who are looking to provide that little extra to their students.
Choices: Alcohol and Other Drugs: A fantastic SDERA (WA State Government’s primary drug and road safety education strategy – see below for further details) resource, designed for use in WA schools, but the activities and support materials that are included are really useful. Very much based on what we know is best practice in this area – concentrating on skills development, resistance skills and the like – not simply drug information provision. Highly recommended.
Quizzes: Alcohol and Cannabis: DARTA has developed a series of quizzes to assist teachers to quickly assess Year 9 students’ knowledge, attitudes and values, as well as perceived social norms on a number of different drugs. A teacher’s quiz has also been provided, giving the correct answers to questions (where appropriate), as well as background information that can be used during discussion.
It Couldn’t Happen To Me: A fantastic web-based resource from NSW Department of Education and Communities that provides research, information, ideas and strategies for teachers who are looking at alcohol in the classroom. It’s got so much in it that is useful that it could be a little overwhelming for a teacher who just wants ideas for a couple of quick lessons … It will take some time to go through it but it’s well worth the effort and should be a compulsory part of every health teacher’s toolbox!
Under Construction: Alcohol and the Teenage Brain: Developed by Turning Point, this is a wonderful piece of animation that provides age appropriate information to young people about the effect alcohol has on their brain. The resource that once accompanied the video is no longer available, however there is a wealth of information that can be accessed from watching the animation and it should be relatively easy to create your own activities, or at the very least use the 4-minute video to stimulate some great discussion.
Your Choice: A NSW Police Force alcohol diversion program for underage drinkers used instead of formal legal processes. It is meant to operate as face-to-face education seminar which the young person attends with a parent or guardian but there are so many useful parts that can be used by the classroom teacher. There is so much to look at on this site that it can be a little overwhelming but it’s well worth the effort. Lots of information around alcohol provided in a variety of formats, including short films and animation.
adShame: Not so much a resource that you can use with students but a site that gets you thinking about the issues around alcohol advertising and marketing and possible topics for classroom discussion. There is a useful page under Galleries that provides links to a number of alcohol advertisements or promotional activities, as well as some basic background information on why these are so problematic.
Don’t Turn A Night Out Into A Nightmare: Linked to the Australian Government’s National Binge Drinking Campaign, this is getting pretty old now (the campaign and the materials were launched in 2008) but if you’ve got limited time and just want a couple of activities that get young people to think about positive choices, this may be useful. There’s also a web-based or ‘digital’ game available that takes students through a night out and the choices they make and their potential consequences.
The Lowdown on Alcohol: Developed by Headspace this short video available on YouTube could be used by teachers as a great little conversation starter when discussing alcohol. It’s particularly good at highlighting the fact that even when you’re young you can have problems with your drinking … As with all things Headspace, there’s discussion around mental health as well as ‘talking about problems’ – a great little resource!
Alcohol education: What really works in schools?: Not a teaching resource per se but well worth a read if you want to follow best practice in your classroom. South Australia-based National Centre Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) completed a major systematic review of research on alcohol education programs in secondary schools. If teachers are looking for a best-practice alcohol resource to use in their classroom that has been proven to have a positive effect on teen drinking, this is a simple 4-page summary of their findings.
The Critics’ Choice: This resource is an annual competition that provides a link to a showreel of 12 anti-smoking advertisements from across the world, as well as 9 classroom activities. Students view the ads and act as critics by voting for the one they believe is the most effective. The Critics’ Choice 2013 was the first completely online version and is an incredibly useful resource for teachers. The activities provided are useful but appear to be written with older students in mind and may need to be adjusted for younger groups but the showreel is a fantastic resource. It is imperative however that teachers view the ads before showing them to students to ensure their suitability.
National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC): NCPIC was de-funded in 2016 and its website made inactive. Many of the Centre’s resources, particularly those developed for schools, are now available for a limited time on the Cannabis Information and Support site.
Cannabis and the Brain: A short (under 5 mins) video from NCPIC and Turning Point that tries to explain in simple terms what happens to an adolescent brain when cannabis is used. It is an extremely useful resource for teachers but I’m not too sure how many young people would totally understand the concepts discussed – a great springboard for further classroom discussion though.
Mobile or Roadside Drug Testing (MDT/RDT)
Mobile Drug Testing Educational Video: Most young drivers know little, if anything, about the process of mobile drug testing (MDT), as it is known in NSW, or roadside drug testing (RDT) as it is called in other jurisdictions. This 17 minute video developed by Transport for NSW clearly outlines what happens when you are selected for testing and could help a young driver avoid ending up with a drug driving record. Although it has been developed for a NSW audience and outlines the offence of drug driving in that state, it could be used in schools across the country to provide a basic understanding of the process which is similar wherever you live. It has been developed by Transport for NSW as part of the NSW Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) curriculum and is just one part of the extremely useful and practical online resource On the Move.
School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA): SDERA is the WA State Government’s primary drug and road safety education strategy and they consistently come up with new high quality resources. Their Getting it Together: A Whole School Approach to Drug Education is particularly good, as is Challenges and Choices, a wonderful resource that takes a resilience approach to drug education.
Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development: Drug Education: The site has a range of useful downloadable material for schools, teachers and parents – you will need to look in the Learning and Teaching section to find them though. A particularly interesting one is ‘Get Wise – Working on Illicits in School Education’. One of the few Australian resources that covers a range of illicit drugs, this provides some good information for teachers and some useful classroom activities.
NSW Department of Education and Communities: Drug Education: What was once one of the largest drug education offices in the country now no longer exists and as a result it can be difficult to access some of the wonderful resources this team produced over the years. One of the few states to produce alcohol and illicit drug resources for primary schools, those can be found here (although most are not available on-line but may be in your school library), luckily many of the secondary materials are able to be downloaded free of charge.