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Alcohol abuse and suicide on the rise with disadvantaged teens

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Alcohol abuse and suicide on the rise with disadvantaged teens

launch-admin Apr 12, 2012 0 1537

Media Release


Noffs Foundation calls for greater community support for vulnerable youth during National Youth Week


12th April 2012: The Noffs Foundation has revealed the majority of teenagers it treats for drug and alcohol use are also suffering mental health issues, with an increasing number turning to alcohol and contemplating suicide.


The findings from the Noffs Foundation’s residential Program for Adolescent Life Management (PALM)* in Sydney and Canberra, reveal that three out of four (74.15%) young people at PALM either currently or have previously experienced some form of mental health issues. Worryingly, over one in three (34.7%) have attempted suicide – a marked increase from 25.4% in the same 2011 period.


Noffs Foundation spokesman Matt Noffs said: “What’s quite concerning is that the number of young people we treat suffering from mental health issues has remained consistently high over the last couple of years. On top of this, more teens who are coming to us have suffered so much in their short lives, they’ve attempted to end it.


A lot of these teens with drug and alcohol problems have gone through some kind of trauma. They’ve either been sexually assaulted, suffered physical assault at the hands of someone they know or by a stranger; or they’ve been the victim of severe and ongoing emotional and verbal abuse. With most of these young people, there are serious attachment issues in their history.”


Further findings reveal that trauma continues to be highly prevalent among young people, with physical assault by a known perpetrator being the most common (49.7%).  While the primary drug of concern among youth seeking treatment at PALM is cannabis (58.5%), followed by amphetamine (19.73%), alcohol abuse has risen from 13.9% in the nine months to the end of March 2011, to 16.3% in the same period to March 2012.



Matt said: “The majority of young people we see have yet to complete year 10 and they’re already at a dangerous crossroad in their lives. The work we do with them isn’t just about eliminating drug use, but providing vulnerable young people who have gone through trauma with the right support to put them back on track to reach their full potential in life.


“My grandfather, the Reverend Ted Noffs, used to say to me ‘there’s no such thing as a bad kid’. But there are certainly bad environments that children can be born into and dangerous patterns that can take generations to break out of.”


Key causes for trauma among youth suffering drug and alcohol issues:

  • Physical assault by a known perpetrator (49.7%)
  • Physical assault by a stranger (39.5%)
  • Severe and ongoing emotional and verbal abuse (27.2%)
  • Sexual assault by a known perpetrator (15.65%)
  • Sexual assault by a stranger (5.4%)
  • Torture (2.04%)


Primary drugs of concern among young people seeking treatment at PALM:

  • Cannabis (58.5%)
  • Amphetamine (19.7%)
  • Alcohol (16.3%)


Matt adds: “This National Youth Week we celebrate the contribution young people make in our communities and our families. What they need is the opportunity to deal with the various issues they’ve encountered in their lives, in a supportive and caring environment. This can only be done with enlightened and powerful life changing approaches which the Noffs Foundation specialises in.


“The community and our significant leaders can help by acknowledging and recognising the  needs of these young people, and by supporting the incredible work the Noffs programmes are doing  to assist our disadvantaged youth by visiting www.noffs.org.au.”


*The findings above are from the Noffs Foundation’s Program for Adolescent Life Management (PALM) which is located in Sydney and Canberra. Using Noffs’ proprietary data collection technology, TED, the findings were collected between 1 July 2011 to 31 March 2012, involving 147 young people who have sought treatment at PALM. Where period-on-period comparisons have been made, they have been between 1 July 2010 to 31 March 2011 vs. 1 July 2011 to 31 March 2012.


PALM is a residential program for young people aged 14-18 with serious alcohol, or other drug-related difficulties. The up to three-month program (with up to 12 months continuing care) aims to help young people to build the skills to manage their own lives effectively. PALM is based on leading research conducted in partnership with the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC).


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Media contact: Sarah Tsiros 02) 9492 1034 / 0466 805 364 sarah@launchgroup.com.au

About the Noffs Foundation: The Noffs Foundation was founded by the great Australian humanitarian, Reverend Ted Noffs, in 1970. During his remarkable career of pioneering initiatives for young people, Ted Noffs established Sydney’s first 24 hour crisis centre in 1968, set up the first Drug Referral Centre in Sydney in 1967, co-founded the Aboriginal Affairs Foundation in 1962 and was the co-founder of Lifeline in 1963. The Noffs Foundation today continues the legacy of Ted Noffs by providing essential services for young people and their families who are experiencing drug and alcohol problems and related trauma. Its range of programs for young people are all based on leading research, continually evaluated and government endorsed.

PALM provides a safe, homely environment within which young people are supported through this difficult journey. The program addresses the needs of young people at all levels including personal, social, vocational or educational, living skills and sport and recreation.

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