Alcohol and drugs are a very real risk for our young people, and those in rural areas are not immune from their effects.
Sadly, in recent weeks more than one young person has died as a direct or indirect result of drug or alcohol use, and a number of others have been harmed.
Red Cross has introduced a programme called SAM – Save A Mate – to address the harm and try to reduce and avoid it.
Red Cross Area Manager Adrienne Transom spoke to the Tutaenui branch in June about the programme, and what it involves.
The focus is not on “just saying no”, but acknowledges that young people will experiment, and arms them with the information they may need to save a mate’s life, and to make more informed decisions for themselves.
The programme is run by trained facilitators through high schools. One school in the Rangitikei area has already signed up to put all its students through the programme this year, and to run follow-up sessions in future years for new students. Adrienne hopes other schools in the area will also take up the programme.
SAM looks at what the effects of alcohol and drugs really are, risk factors around abuse and overdose, and symptoms of and best response to an overdose (basic first aid).
“A lot of students just don’t know what the effects are,” Transom said. “When we tell them how long alcohol or marijuana stays in their system, they’re often shocked.”
SAM is an interactive workshop, and teachers are asked not to attend, to allow young people to talk openly and honestly about their own experiences. There’s no charge for schools. The only commitment they need to make is a few hours of students’ time.
by Belinda Howard
of Tutaenui branch