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Tuesday, June 30, 1998 Published at 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK


Parents helped to tackle drink and drugs

Thousands of youngsters are attracted to drink and drugs

A new guide to help parents talk to their children about alcohol and drugs has been launched by the Government.

The move comes as research shows that more parents - some 52% - are worried about the effects of drugs on their children than any other issue.

A telephone line has been set up to deal with the anticipated flood of calls requesting the guide.

Almost all children drink

Alcohol has been included in the guide for the first time after research showed that by the age of 15, 96% of children have tried alcohol.

The average weekly amount of alcohol consumed by 11- to 15-year-olds who drink doubled between 1990 and 1996, studies have shown.

Public Health Minister Tessa Jowell and the Government's drugs czar Keith Hellawell launched the new 24-page booklet called "A Parent's Guide to Drugs and Alcohol" in London.

The guide offers practical tips on how to talk to children about drugs and alcohol as well as how to spot the tell-tale signs of misuse.

The Health Education Authority decided to publish a new edition of the booklet after the first edition, which was distributed to 3.5 million parents, ran out.

Confidence to act

Ms Jowell said: "This new guide will be a valuable resource for parents. It offers comprehensive information which will help give parents the knowledge and confidence they need to discuss drugs and alcohol issues with their children.

"For the first time alcohol has been included in the booklet alongside drugs - a move which has been welcomed by parents and professionals alike."

Wrecks communities

[ image: Keith Hellawell: 'drink and drugs wrecks lives.']
Keith Hellawell: 'drink and drugs wrecks lives.'
Keith Hellawell warned that drug misuse not only increased crime and health costs, but wrecked families and communities.

He said that the Government's 10-year strategy for tackling drug misuse aimed to solve problems through a partnership approach involving parents as well as Government departments and agencies.

"Parents need information and support. This guide will help give parents information to increase their confidence to deal with the issue," he added.

Hannah Cinamon, HEA programme manager, said: "We believe the guide is what parents have been waiting for and our test marketing research found that the few parents whose children had drug-related problems regretted not having had access to such information earlier."

Widespread problem

Recent drug research has also shown:

  • 1,000 children under 15 are admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning every year.

  • Three quarters (73%) of young people aged 16-24 say they have been drunk at least once in the last month.

  • One in five (19%) of young people in the same age group said they had been drunk four to five times in the last month.

  • One in four (26%) of 11- to 16-year-olds and 57% of 16- to 22-year-olds have tried an illegal drug.

  • Illegal drugs have been taken in the last three months by 8% of 11- to 16-year-olds and 28% of 16- to 22-year-olds.

  • In the 11 to 14 age group, 26% of English school children have been offered drugs and for 14- to 16-year-olds the figure was 63%,

  • 36% of young people under the age of 30 are likely to have tried cannabis.

The launch of the guide coincides with a two-day conference on parents and drug prevention in Manchester.

To get a copy of the guide phone 0345 221133 (calls at local rate).

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