Drugs are not a ‘top issue of concern’ for young Aussies whilst coping with stress, school, study problems and body image are.

This is according to this year’s National Youth Survey conducted annually by Mission Australia. 15-19 year olds around Australia are asked what they value, who and where they turn for help and their personal issues of concern. More about the survey and findings can be accessed here.

Some of the findings regarding drugs and alcohol are particularly fascinating. Although almost a quarter of young people rated drugs and alcohol as an important issue in the community, it was rated very low as a personal issue of concern for most survey participants. Only 7.8% of young people were either “extremely concerned” or very concerned about drugs and 5.8% were either “extremely concerned” or “very concerned” about alcohol.

In November this year Headspace released findings from their research that suggested parents in Australia considered “drugs” the top issue of concern for young people. The fact that drugs and alcohol were rated as the biggest concerns for parents in Headspace study and amongst the lowest concerns for young people in Mission Australia’s research is telling. It also validates many of our experiences on YoDAA’s hotline where we frequently support family members devastated by the (sometimes fairly minimal) drug use of a young person where the young person themselves sees no cause for alarm.  Whilst acknowledging the distress of families and not minimising the potential risks of even experimental use, we frequently encourage parents to look beyond what is most distressing to them and to understand the issues of most importance to the young person or that might be underpinning drug use .