We all want to reduce drug-related harm and ensure young people don’t take unnecessary risks. But decades of research shows fear isn’t an effective way to do this.
Rather than drawing on the science about reducing harm, the series overstates the nation’s drug problem and the likelihood of problems from taking MDMA (ecstasy). And it’s likely to scare the wits out of parents of teens.
So, what do parents really need to know about party drugs?
Most young people don’t use drugs
Illicit drug use among teens is low and has been in decline for nearly a decade.
Although Australians overall have a relatively high rate of MDMA use compared to similar countries, only a small proportion of teenagers (around 3%) and young adults (7%) have used MDMA in the last year. Among high school students, the overwhelming majority (94%) have never tried MDMA.
Normalising the idea that drug use isn’t that common is a key prevention strategy in drug education. If young people think “everyone” is using drugs, they are more likely to want to do it too.
Scare tactics don’t work
Fatal overdoses are relatively rare. Most people who use party drugs have no adverse consequences. So when young people see messages suggesting all drug use is dangerous, they know it’s not ...