Youth drug research revealed

Posted on: Wednesday, 29 August 2012

New research has revealed family conflict, mental health concerns, lack of engagement with employment and training opportunities, and housing instability are among the issues facing drug and alcohol affected youths.

Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre’s Youth Cohort Study included 150 young people aged between 16 and 21, who had been in recent contact with a Victorian treatment agency.

Key findings included:

  • Cannabis was the primary drug of concern for the group (56 per cent), followed by alcohol (19 per cent), heroin and other opioids (13 per cent) and stimulants (5 per cent)
  • 55 per cent of the sample had high levels of lifetime mental health diagnoses
  • 13 per cent had recently attempted suicide
  • 36 per cent reported regular conflict with family
  • 37 per cent experienced living on the streets
  • 77 per cent were not engaged in meaningful activity, such as employment, education or training.

Associate Professor of Addiction Studies at Turning Point and Monash University David Best said family conflict was strongly linked to the intensity of substance use; and the failure to resolve family issues to ongoing vulnerability and adversity.

“It is unfortunate that many young people were resistant to family members being involved in their treatment and reported that they did not want their family to come to the youth AOD service,” he said.

Associate Professor Best said further research was needed to look at tailoring services to meet the needs of young people and also so family members could be more involved.

He said it was important youths with addiction issues engaged treatment agencies, saying they could provide positive changes across a range of complex and vulnerable matters.

“It is seen as valuable and to be recommended, not least because it provides the respite and space young people may feel they need,” he said.

In a separate study – How do young teenagers who regularly use drugs differ from older youth?Turning Point researcher Dr Sarah MacLean found that young people aged between 13 and 15 rarely perceived their drug use as a problem and resented that they needed treatment.

“Services should work to be viewed by young people as resources for living well, rather than as institutions designed to cure the sick and weak,” Dr MacLean said.

Youth issues will be among the items on the agenda at the annual Turning Point Symposium on August 29 at the Royal Society of Victoria in Melbourne.

This year's symposium will focus on Systems, engagement and innovation: Developing more effective treatment and policy responses.

At a time of significant system reform, the symposium will highlight current research focused on improving access to and quality of treatment responses across Victoria.


For media inquiries, please contact Winston Tan from Eastern Health Communications on 0407 785 706.

About Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre

Turning Point (established 1995 and based in Fitzroy) provides leadership to the Victorian alcohol and drug sector. It promotes the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities living with, and affected by, alcohol, other drug-related harms and gambling. In 2009, Turning Point joined Eastern Health.

About Eastern Health

Eastern Health is one of Victoria’s largest public health services. It provides a range of acute, sub-acute, mental health and community health services from 29 locations. Its larger facilities include: Angliss Hospital in Upper Ferntree Gully, Box Hill Hospital in Box Hill, Healesville & District Hospital in Healesville, Maroondah Hospital in Ringwood East, Peter James Centre in Burwood East, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre in Fitzroy, Wantirna Health in Wantirna, Yarra Valley Community Health in Healesville and Yarra Ranges Health in Lilydale.