The Other Talk

Helping you have conversations with young people about alcohol and other drugs.

There are some tough topics every parent and carer need to address.

Talking about alcohol and other drugs is one of those tough topics – we call it ‘The Other Talk’.

This guide is designed to help you understand some of the common issues for young people and give you some proven tips for talking about them.

What is The Other Talk?

People normally associate ‘The Talk’ with a conversation about sex, consent and relationships.

But there is another important talk that every family should have. ‘The Other Talk’ - an open conversation about alcohol and other drugs – is an important part of preparing a young person for situations where they may be around alcohol and other drugs.

You can start this conversation from an early age, to give your young person the right information and attitudes before they go to high school.

In fact, broaching this topic early means you can establish an understanding that there are no silly questions and no off-limit topics.

mother and teenaged daughter at home
  1. Influencing young people
  2. The facts about alcohol and other drugs
    - Young people, alcohol and the law
    - Young people and drug use
  3. The party dilemma
  4. Hosting a safe teen party

How you tackle this topic is important because:

  • Research shows parents’ attitudes and actions have a huge impact on a young person’s drinking behaviour.1-6
  • Your rules around alcohol use can decrease the likelihood of your young person engaging in risky drinking.7
  • Your decision not to allow your young person to drink is backed by laws in most states and territories.
  1. Randolph KA, Cheatham LP, Weiss UK, Williams J. Exposure to Parent and Peer Alcohol Use and the Risk of Drinking Onset and Escalation Among Adolescents. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal. 2018;35(2):97-106.
  2. Larm P, Livingston M, Svensson J, Leifman H, Raninen J. The increased trend of non-drinking in adolescence: The role of parental monitoring and attitudes toward offspring drinking. Drug & Alcohol Review. 2018;37:S34-S41.
  3. Yap MBH, Cheong TWK, Zaravinos-Tsakos F, Lubman DI, Jorm AF. Modifiable parenting factors associated with adolescent alcohol misuse: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Addiction. 2017;112(7):1142-62.
  4. Smit K, Otten R, Voogt C, Kleinjan M, Engels R, Kuntsche E. Exposure to drinking mediates the association between parental alcohol use and preteen alcohol use. Addictive Behaviors. 2018;87:244-50.
  5. Velleman R. Influences on how children and young people learn about and behave towards alcohol. Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 2009.
  6. Jones SC, Magee CA. The role of family, friends and peers in A ustralian adolescent's alcohol consumption. Drug and alcohol review. 2014;33(3):304-13.
  7. Sharmin S, Kypri K, Khanam M, Wadolowski M, Bruno R, Attia J, et al. Effects of parental alcohol rules on risky drinking and related problems in adolescence: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2017;178:243-56.
  8. National Health and Medical Research Council. Draft Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Australian Government; 2020.
  9. Positive Choices. Talking to a young person about alcohol and other drugs: Postive Choices; 2019. [Accessed March 15, 2021].
  10. Spear LP. Effects of adolescent alcohol consumption on the brain and behaviour. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 2018(4):197.
  11. Guerri C, Pascual M. Impact of neuroimmune activation induced by alcohol or drug abuse on adolescent brain development. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience. 2019;77:89-98.
  12. Bonomo YA, Bowes G, Coffey C, Carlin JB, Patton GC. Teenage drinking and the onset of alcohol dependence: a cohort study over seven years. Addiction. 2004;99(12):1520-8.
  13. Cancer Australia. Alcohol: Australian Government; 2021. [Accessed March 15, 2021].
  14. World Health Organization. The health and social effects of nonmedical cannabis use. Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2016.
  15. Colizzi M, Bhattacharyya S. Cannabis use and the development of tolerance: a systematic review of human evidence. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2018;93:1-25.
  16. Scott JC, Slomiak ST, Jones JD, Rosen AF, Moore TM, Gur RC. Association of cannabis with cognitive functioning in adolescents and young adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA psychiatry. 2018;75(6):585-95.
  17. Lowe DJE, Sasiadek JD, Coles AS, George TP. Cannabis and mental illness: a review. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. 2019;269(1):107-20.
  18. Copeland J. Changes in cannabis use among young people: impact on mental health. Current opinion in psychiatry. 2013;26(4):325-9.
  19. Wilkinson ST, Radhakrishnan R, D’Souza DC. Impact of Cannabis Use on the Development of Psychotic Disorders. Current Addiction Reports. 2014;1(2):115-28.
  20. Palamar JJ, Barratt MJ. Synthetic cannabinoids: undesirable alternatives to natural marijuana. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 2016;42(4):371-3.
  21. National Health and Medical Research Council. Caring for people who sniff petrol or other volatile substances: a quick reference guide for health workers. Melbourne; 2011.
  22. Campbell A. The Australian Illicit Drug Guide: Every Person's Guide to Illicit Drugs--Their Use, Effects and History, Treatment Options and Legal Penalties: Black Inc; 2001.
  23. Crossin R, Scott D, Witt KG, Duncan JR, Smith K, Lubman DI. Acute harms associated with inhalant misuse: Co-morbidities and trends relative to age and gender among ambulance attendees. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2018;190:46-53.
  24. Papanastasiou C, Dietze, P. Just a laughing matter? Nitrous oxide use among a group of regular psychostimulant users in Melbourne, Victoria. Melbourne: Centre for Population Health, Burnet Institute; 2013.
  25. Greenhalgh E, Jenkins S, Scollo MM. Key Australian and international position statements on e-cigarettes, health, and options for regulation: Cancer Council Victoria; 2020 [Accessed March 15, 2021].
  26. World Health Organization. WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation: Report on the Scientific Basis of Tobacco Product Regulation. 2008. Report No.: 955.
  27. Positive Choices. Electronic Cigarettes and Vaping: Factsheet. University of Sydney: Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use; 2020.
  28. Cao DJ, Aldy K, Hsu S, McGetrick M, Verbeck G, De Silva I, et al. Review of Health Consequences of Electronic Cigarettes and the Outbreak of Electronic Cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use-Associated Lung Injury. Journal of Medical Toxicology. 2020;16(3):295-310.
  29. Pisinger C, Døssing M. A systematic review of health effects of electronic cigarettes. Preventive Medicine. 2014;69:248-60.
  30. Erku DA, Morphett K, Steadman KJ, Gartner CE. Policy Debates Regarding Nicotine Vaping Products in Australia: A Qualitative Analysis of Submissions to a Government Inquiry from Health and Medical Organisations. International journal of environmental research and public health. 2019;16(22):4555.
  31. Black E, Shakeshaft, A, Newton, N, Teesson, M, Farrell, M, Rodriguez, D. "Party Drugs"/MDMA/Ecstasy - What you need to know. UNSW Sydney: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre; 2017.
  32. Brands B, Sproule, B, Marshman, J. Drugs & Drug Abuse Third ed. Ontario: Addiction Research Foundation; 1998.
  33. Upfal J. The Australian Drug Guide: Every Person's Guide to Prescription and Over-the-counter Medicines, Street Drugs, Vaccines, Vitamins and Minerals. 7th ed. Melbourne: Black Inc.; 2006.
  34. State Library of NSW. Chapter 4: What the law deals with: State Library New South Wales; 2016. [Accessed March 15, 2021].
  35. Positive Choices. Drug and Alcohol Education: Parent Booklet: The Matilda Centre, National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University.; 2019. [Accessed  March 15, 2021].