In 2017, Teen Challenge QLD will be piloting Not Even Once (NEO) Drug Demand Reducation Program. The program was initially established by Teen Challenge Tasmania in collaboration with the Dalgarno Institute. The curriculum has been developed within the framework of the Australian Curriculum and delivered in both large scale and small group formats into primary and secondary schools, and community forums.
In accordance with best evidence based practice of no substance use for developing brains, the core message of NEO is it is both valid and reasonable to ‘say no’ to drugs and alcohol and it is also the best response for teenagers. Increasingly, the message that is being conveyed to our youth and communities in general is that substance abuse is ‘inevitable’. This approach sends negative messages that disempower our youth, suggesting that substance abuse is unavoidable and that when they do use, they just need to do it safely.
The NEO Program focuses strongly on the importance of protecting both the developing brain and body during this second most important phase of human development. There is no level of ‘safe’ alcohol and other drug use during the adolescent phase and so key learning and understanding of what informs best practice health, safety and activity for the developmental phase is a key element of curriculum.
NEO presents a proactive and protective perspective on the Drug and Alcohol issue, and the harm that is done to the very precious young human beings. In our seminars, we don’t just look at the how or what of drugs, but also some of the why’s behind the issues and explores pathways to resilience.
Teen Challenge QLD is currently working to deliver NEO into high schools, sporting clubs and community centres within Toowoomba.
NEO is currently presented to public and private schools in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Recent evaluations following delivery of the program have shown that 84.8% of the sample indicated their likelihood to use illicit drugs or alcohol was unlikely, which is great news. What was even more encouraging and speaks and speaks for the effectiveness of the program, of the sample of those that indicated they were ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to use before the seminar, 20.68% indicated an abstinence decision and 74.8% indicated a positive shift away from using illicit drugs and alcohol after one of our seminars.
Comments from teachers and students following NEO Seminars
“I’m so glad you guys came today. I have two boys in this school and yesterday they delivered the …. program. Although they presented well, it seemed so fatalistic….that it was inevitable that they are going to use (substances). Today from you, they heard that it isn’t the majority and they can choose to say no. It was a welcome balance.”
“The info targeted my heart. In the past week I have told a few of my friends what drugs are doing to their brains and bodies.”
- Year 7 Student
“It was very interesting and very to the point. They didn’t try to soften anything. They just said things how they really are.”
- Year 9 Student
“I think the information provided was very educational and worthy of our time. It taught us the short term/long term effects of drugs and alcohol.”
- Year 8 Student
“Really good stories about people and some great information that people need to know.”
- Year 7 Student
“Thank you for some terrific sessions with our students. The students were quickly engaged and the feedback was very positive. Of particular interest to me was how the students reported that your session had impacted on their likely behaviour in the future – Not Even Once seems to have struck a chord! Keep up the fantastic work!"