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Young people suffering as drug problems take hold among family and friends


22 August 2019 at 8:00 am
Luke Michael
Young Australians with friends and family members experiencing drug and alcohol problems are almost twice as likely to feel sad and negative about their future compared to other people, according to new research.


Luke Michael | 22 August 2019 at 8:00 am


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Young people suffering as drug problems take hold among family and friends
22 August 2019 at 8:00 am

Young Australians with friends and family members experiencing drug and alcohol problems are almost twice as likely to feel sad and negative about their future compared to other people, according to new research.

Mission Australia’s survey of 28,000 young people revealed that three in 10 believed alcohol and/or drug use was a problem for their family and friends.

These young people were found to have greater mental health concerns, poorer family relationships, and more negative thoughts about their future compared to their peers.

In response to the findings, Mission Australia has called for governments, schools and community groups to work together to help young people who are struggling.

CEO James Toomey said it clearly wasn’t just the people engaging with problematic alcohol and drug use who were affected.

“We need to look at the very real negative implications and ripple effect that this is having on young people who see and experience these behaviours in their close networks,” Toomey said.

“These young people are experiencing greater levels of sadness and are more likely to feel negative about their future than their counterparts. They’re faced [with] situations where they are surrounded by alcohol or drug use, with limited appropriate support or guidance.”

Almost double the proportion of young people surrounded by problematic alcohol or drug use reported feeling sad/very sad with their life as a whole (15.5 per cent) compared to those who were not (7.9 per cent).

This higher proportion was also evident around young people feeling negative/very negative about the future (13.8 per cent compared to 8.4 per cent).

Toomey said a range of mental health supports should be made available for young people concerned about stress, mental health, suicide, and the use of alcohol and drugs among their families or friends.

He said there was also an urgent need for more age-specific, culturally appropriate rehabilitation services for both young people and adults across the country.

“[We] need more early intervention, prevention and education services on alcohol and drug dependence from early school years through to adulthood,” he said.

“We all have a responsibility to address the use of alcohol and drugs in our community. 

“We need to shift attitudes towards excessive and problematic alcohol and drug use and help forge a better path for these young people as they move from adolescence to adulthood.”

An 18-year-old survey respondent from South Australia said people witnessing frequent drug use needed safe outlets to report this.

A 16-year-old girl from South Australia said more help for people struggling with addiction should be available.

“I was 14 when I was introduced to ice/meth and there was no support because no one knew how to help me,” she said.

“I’m seven months clean and want to help my old friends struggling with the same cycle.”

If you are a young person and need someone to talk to, you can contact Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or headspace on 1800 650 890. 


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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