Building a case for change with solid statistics is an important part of the planning process for your community initiative. The use of statistics will not only add to your program’s success, it will also help you to tell the real story about alcohol and other drugs in your area rather than one just based on assumptions.
Consider: media reports often focus on young people taking illegal drugs. However, illegal drug use isn’t that common among young people. A slightly higher proportion of young people are drinking alcohol before they are 18, which is placing them at risk of harm. Young people take more risks than adults and – as their brain is still developing until their mid-20s – alcohol is one of the leading causes of death in this age group.
Targeting illegal substance use among this group may therefore mean that your work lacks meaning for the people you are talking to because most of them aren’t using drugs. It also means your resources would be better directed at alcohol.
If you’re looking for credible information on alcohol and drugs, here are some great places to start:
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation gathers statistics from the key research reports in Australia and overseas and pulls out their key messages.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has put together fact-sheets for each NSW region describing the community’s use of alcohol and drugs. An invaluable resource for CDATs.
Sourcing good data can be tricky. If you would like to do this yourself, watch this quick, online tutorial to find out where to find good research reports, as well as how best to interpret them.