Influencing young people
It’s not just what you say that makes a big difference, it is also what you – and others do – that shapes a young person’s attitudes and behaviours.
The influence of others
Before your young person is faced with deciding to have their first alcoholic drink - or not – they will have formed attitudes and expectations about alcohol from parents, carers, family, friends, the media and the internet.
How much they are influenced by others is important when weighing up the risk of alcohol and drugs. Be aware of how susceptible your young person is to the influence of peers and the attitudes and behaviours of their friends.
What you can do
If you choose to drink, leading by example and role modelling lower risk drinking can have a powerful influence on your young person’s drinking behaviour.1
- Avoid saying you ‘need’ or ‘deserve’ a drink.
- Follow the Australian alcohol guidelines – no more than four standard drinks a day, and a total of no more than 10 standard drinks in a week to reduce long-term harm and alcohol-related injury. The same guidelines recommend people aged under 18 years should not drink alcohol at all.8
- Show you don’t always need a drink to have fun or wind down.
- Build some alcohol-free days into your week.
- Find some healthy ways to manage stress like exercising, listening to music, streaming a show, or using other coping strategies like breathing techniques.
- Keep track of how many standard drinks you’ve had, even when you’re not driving.
- Demonstrate that you can refuse a drink.
You don’t need to tell your young person about your past experiences with alcohol and/or drugs (good or bad). However, if you decide to share your past, consider how much detail you want to give; whether your story will be beneficial; and, how you will respond to any questions.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Velleman R. Influences on how children and young people learn about and behave towards alcohol. Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 2009.
- 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.
- 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.
- National Health and Medical Research Council. Draft Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Australian Government; 2020.
- Positive Choices. Talking to a young person about alcohol and other drugs: Postive Choices; 2019. [Accessed March 15, 2021].
- Spear LP. Effects of adolescent alcohol consumption on the brain and behaviour. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 2018(4):197.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cancer Australia. Alcohol: Australian Government; 2021. [Accessed March 15, 2021].
- World Health Organization. The health and social effects of nonmedical cannabis use. Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2016.
- Colizzi M, Bhattacharyya S. Cannabis use and the development of tolerance: a systematic review of human evidence. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2018;93:1-25.
- 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.
- 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.
- Copeland J. Changes in cannabis use among young people: impact on mental health. Current opinion in psychiatry. 2013;26(4):325-9.
- 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.
- Palamar JJ, Barratt MJ. Synthetic cannabinoids: undesirable alternatives to natural marijuana. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 2016;42(4):371-3.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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].
- World Health Organization. WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation: Report on the Scientific Basis of Tobacco Product Regulation. 2008. Report No.: 955.
- Positive Choices. Electronic Cigarettes and Vaping: Factsheet. University of Sydney: Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use; 2020.
- 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.
- Pisinger C, Døssing M. A systematic review of health effects of electronic cigarettes. Preventive Medicine. 2014;69:248-60.
- 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.
- 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.
- Brands B, Sproule, B, Marshman, J. Drugs & Drug Abuse Third ed. Ontario: Addiction Research Foundation; 1998.
- 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.
- State Library of NSW. Chapter 4: What the law deals with: State Library New South Wales; 2016. [Accessed March 15, 2021].
- 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].