Drug & Alcohol Education

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Teaching children and young people drug and alcohol education is an essential component in delaying use and reducing harm, as well as subsequently preventing the development of substance misuse as they grow into adulthood. It also forms a specific component of the statutory Health Education introduced in 2020.

Drug and alcohol use can have serious impacts on people’s lives, physically, mentally, and socially, and can significantly affect quality of life. Proactive teaching about drugs and alcohol is an important part of education and can be included in both PSHE and integrated into the broader curriculum. As part of a whole school approach, it is also important that the school provides an environment that fosters good relationships between pupils, staff, and the wider community to develop the necessary protective factors that help to reduce substance use. Other protective factors include helping to build pupils resilience and confidence, social skills, and overall sense of good physical and mental wellbeing – all of which can be supported by the school ethos and comprehensive PSHE.  

What is the most effective way to deliver drug and alcohol education? 

    • Education is delivered with the social and cultural contexts in mind, and pupils’ personal experiences are considered  
    • Focus on development of skills, knowledge, and self-efficacy and provide opportunities for problem-solving and reflection to encourage positive and supportive behaviours.  
    • Focus on development of a broad understanding of what problematic usage patterns or misuse might look like 
    • Avoidance of blame and stigmatising language and narratives e.g., ‘addicts’, idea that support services are only for people ‘addicted’ 
    • Do not utilise scare or shock tactics, as these can be harmful and there is no evidence these are effective  
    • Education should be delivered through a structured and comprehensive spiral PSHE programme, which is age-appropriate and responsive to local or national data and need  
    • Emphasis on positive social norms to challenge social pressures e.g., knowing the majority of young people have not tried drugs  
    • Do not rely solely on external visitors or organisations to deliver drug and alcohol education, particularly where past experience and testimonials form the basis of the education 
    • Signposting and information about local, online, and national services are always 
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