Danny Patterson (right), pictured with Paul Spooner of the Byron Youth Service, says parents should encourage their children to
Danny Patterson (right), pictured with Paul Spooner of the Byron Youth Service, says parents should encourage their children to

New survey shows high teen drug, alcohol use

By PATRIZIA REIMER patrizia.reimer@northernstar.com.au MANY local teens drink to get drunk and take disturbing cocktails of drugs, a new survey shows.

The survey of 420 local high school students found 60 per cent drank, 20 per cent had a problem with alcohol and 15 per cent used drugs.

The survey was done by the Byron Ratepayers' Association to complement the Byron Bay Drug and Alcohol Forum on today.

A group of teenagers from around the shire backed the survey's findings when talking to The Star yesterday.

"When I was 16 it would've been every weekend, doing one or more of those drugs, (ecstasy, acid, marijuana) at least once a week but now it's once a month," John, 17, said.

"I've grown out of it, grown up a bit."

The survey found, among those who admitted to problems with alcohol, that some drank at any time of the day, some drank to get unconscious and some drank spirits because they got drunk faster.

"It's pretty much impossible to get the truth out of a 15-year-old," John said.

"Even anonymously I feel weird telling someone about it." Adam, 16, worked and often used the money he earns to buy bottles of spirits.

In answer to the question, 'how much do you drink?', he asked, 'How much can you get for $100?'

The survey showed cannabis was the most widely used drug, followed by ecstasy.

Jane, 17, said she had turned over a new leaf, focusing on her health and realising it could be enjoyable to do things in moderation.

"I would do it every weekend for about two years - drinking, doing ekkys, acid, marijuana and mushies," she said.

"I wasn't supported or nurtured. Drugs was just a way of life and I didn't know anyone who didn't do it."

Danny Patterson was no longer a teenager but said he still felt the angst that drove young people to seek rebellion and escape.

"Enrol them in sport; get them as active as they can; playing instruments; get them feeling good about themselves," he said.

The names of the teenagers in this story have been changed.



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