Alcohol and Other Drugs

Drug education helps children and young people understand that all drugs, legal and illegal, have the potential to cause harm, and that the drug experience is because of many factors including the person, the drug and the environment. It is also about students learning how to predict and solve problems, rehearsing refusal and coping strategies, making smarter choices based on credible information, and knowing when and how to seek help for themselves or others who may be at risk of harm. 

SDERA provides information about alcohol and other drugs, school-based curriculum programs and resources, professional learning workshops for early childhood and school staff, and parents, and also assists schools to develop drug education guidelines. We also offer a state-wide consultancy service and our CHAT initiative (Changing Health Acting Together) supports schools who want to implement a whole school approach in drug education. 

What is taught in a school drug education program?

Education about alcohol and other drugs needs to start in  early childhood and continue through the primary and secondary years of a child's schooling. It is important that students are exposed to drug content that is age-appropriate and has a focus on skill development and not only on increasing knowledge.

In Kindergarten to Year 2, students:

  • learn about medicines and the need to use them properly under the supervision of an adult

  • explore why medicines and poisons must be stored out of reach of children

  • learn how to contact emergency services if there is an accident at home

  • discuss alternatives to using analgesics

  • examine ways to avoid passive smoking (tobacco)

  • learn what to do when a needle or syringe is found.

In Year 3 to 6, students:

  • learn about legal drugs such as tobacco, caffeine and alcohol, and illegal drugs such as cannabis 

  • examine ways to avoid passive smoking and refuse other offers of drugs

  • discuss and explore the potential effects of tobacco, caffeine, alcohol and cannabis on the body

  • practice strategies to manage drug-related situations

  • learn how to contact emergency services and administer basic first aid.

In Years 7 to 12, students:

  • learn about the potential physical harms, and the legal, financial and social consequences of legal and illegal drug use

  • analyse influences and reasons why people choose to use or not to use drugs

  • influences on drug use including the media (especially those aimed at young people) and family, friends and peers

  • identify different sources of support including school staff, community agencies and parents, and how and when to ask for help

  • identify potentially risky drug-related situations and practice a range of personal and social skills such as help seeking, decision making and assertive communication that can be used to manage these situations.

A resilience approach to drug education

Resilience and self-esteem are protective factors that reduce the likelihood that young people will use drugs. Resilience is also important for an individual to manage themselves and their environment. SDERA's alcohol and drug education resources take a resilience approach and develop students' skills such as perseverance, problem solving, critical consciousness and a sense of purpose.

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