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Drugs and Alcohol

Children and young people are often exposed to the use of drug and alcohol from a young age.
They may well see drug and alcohol use featured on TV, or see them used in their communities.
It could be that they live in families where drug and / or alcohol abuse are a problem.
As children get older they will see friends experimenting with substances and may well use them themselves.

Giving children and young people the information and tools to make safe decisions is essential. School can play a part in helping children and young people understand the risks both drug and alcohol misuse poses to both physical and mental wellbeing.
Schools play a vital role in giving young people the resilience and emotional tools to keep themselves safe

  • Secondary schools are required to offer education on the use of substances. It should form a part of RSE and PSHE education and be offered as part of a ‘spiral’ curriculum – revisited over the school career as children grow and develop.

    The effectiveness of education on health risks for this age group is complicated by their brain development. They are ‘pre-programmed’ to seek pleasure, take risks and be influenced by peers.  You can read more *here*

    PSHE work around self esteem and building resilience can help Children and Young people negotiate the challenges they will inevitably face in making safe decisions

    There is much evidence that ‘scare tactics’ do not work in deterring young people from trying drugs and alcohol; you can read Public Health England’s review *here*. A broader approach is likely to have more impact- allowing for open discussion including
    • attitudes towards drugs and alcohol in society
    • how alcohol use is portrayed in the media
    • how young people can be assertive and manage peer pressure

    You can read the NICE guidance on Alcohol Education in Secondary Schools *here* and on Drug Misuse Prevention for vulnerable young people *here*.

    If a Young Person Discloses Drug or Alcohol Misuse

    There may be concerns about the young person already , they may be tired, unmotivated, and disruptive. They may have poor attendance. They may disclose to you of their own volition. You may be told by other pupils, or the child may be intoxicated in school.
    Follow your schools safeguarding policies to ensure the immediate safety of the young person as the priority.
    A member of staff who knows the young person can play an important role in giving the young person time and space to talk about what is happening for them. Find a private space for the conversation.
    • Talk about what you have noticed in terms of their behaviour and presentation.
    • Avoid accusations - Don’t try and scare them
    • Ask the young person if they have any thoughts about what they would like to change- harnessing their own motivation for things to be better is always more effective
    • Support them to share their problem with parent/carer – consider their Gillick Competency
    Agree to talk again
    • Seek support and advice from your safeguarding lead

    Be mindful that there may be others needing support in their peer group. They may also be misusing substances, or exposed to pressure to do so.


  • Information and Lesson Planning

    Scottish Government Review of ‘What Works’ in drug and alcohol prevention education can be found *here*

    Public Health England – lesson plan on alcohol use *here*

    DrinkAware has facts, information and advice on alcohol use – including useful videos for families *here*

    FRANK has ‘honest’ information about drugs and alcohol for young people *here*

    Childline has a range of child-friendly resources about drugs and alcohol *here*

    Al-Anon for anyone affected by a loved ones drinking *here*

    Ad-fam support for families affected by drugs or alcohol misuse *here*

    Local Services
    The Matthew Project in Norfolk provides support for young people affected by their own substance misuse or that of loved ones *here*

    Change, Grow, Live Norfolk Services for all affected by Substance misuse *here*


Who can help?

For support or advice young people, families and professionals can contact :

Your Local Pharmacist. Find a local one here

Call 111 – they can reassure you and advise if you need more medical help

Just One Number for Norfolk Children and Young People’s Health Services Tel: 0300 300 0123 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Saturday 9am-1pm.

Parents can use Parentline Text messaging service: 07520 631590

Young people aged 11-19 can text Chat Health on 07480635060

Other parents who are going through or have been through this before can be a big help to you, friends or family, or you could join our online forum to speak to Norfolk Parents

CLICK HERE to find out more


Find out about the enhanced School Nurse offer ...(content required?)

And the emotional health pathway *here*

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