The study authors recommend a number of strategies to address alcohol and drug use, after it has become a problem. These are important strategies.
An equally important strategy is to focus on developing initiatives to prevent risky drinking and drug use before it becomes a problem.
The last national survey of mental health and wellbeing by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed 80 per cent of people with a diagnosable alcohol problem were not accessing professional help. For many people, waiting until there is a diagnosable alcohol or other drug problem is simply too late.
Teaching young people how to make healthy decisions about using alcohol and other drugs, before they start using, is also an important prevention strategy.
University of Wollongong academic Dr Coralie Wilson is part of a team that has recently started a large-scale cluster randomised controlled trial of MakingtheLink – a school-based program that aims to prevent Australia’s increasing alcohol and drug problem by teaching young people how to make healthy lifestyle decisions about substances, before they start using.
For the first time in Australia’s history, Makingthelink brings together content from paediatrics, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, and effective processes of behaviour change in a strength-based and educationally sound format to promote help-seeking for risky drinking and depression in high school students.
Project chief investigators Professor Dan Lubman (Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre and Monash University), Professor Anthony Jorm (The University of Melbourne), Professor Nick Allen (The University of Melbourne), Dr Coralie Wilson (Graduate School of Medicine, UOW) and Dr Jenny Proimos (Principal Medical Advisor for Child and Adolescent Health and Wellbeing in Victoria’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development) received over $620,000 in the last National Health and Medical Research Council funding round to conduct the trial.
If this trial shows MakingtheLink to be effective, the program will be rapidly incorporated within a national school curriculum. As such, Makingthelink will complement existing health promotion activities in schools, bolster early intervention approaches for reducing adolescent’ risky alcohol and other drug use, and directly address risky drinking and drug use in the Illawarra.
For more information contact Dr Coralie Wilson by email in the first instance at [email protected] For information on MakingtheLink go to http://www.turningpoint.org.au/Media-Centre/Latest_News/MAKINGtheLINK.aspx.