A tool kit for supporting vulnerable
young people at risk of alcohol
related harm in South West
Rowan Miller
Deputy Regional Alcohol Manager
Mike Ward
Senior Consultant for Alcohol Concern
Our focus
• Looked after children and young
• Young people with special
educational needs particularly those
with emotional and behavioural
What made us do it?
• The evidence base around what works in
reducing alcohol misuse among vulnerable
children and young people is limited.
• Calling Time supports a learning culture across
the South West. This was part of a series of
Innovation Projects.
• There is little guidance and information for
universal professionals on this topic.
• People were interested and told us it would be
How did we do it?
We commissioned Alcohol Concern to do the
following with us:
Map what was happening in the South West
Research the existing evidence base
Read….a lot
Consult with young people and professionals
across the South West
• Write and re write 19 drafts!
Key research findings
Looked after children
• Looked after children are four times more likely
than those living in private households to smoke,
drink and take drugs
• Looked after children start using substances at
an earlier age, at higher levels and more
regularly than their peers
• The risk of alcohol problems increased from
18% to 32% for care leavers at 3 months and 1
‘Children start to learn about alcohol from an
extremely young age. They learn a great deal from
general observation of the media and wider
society. However, basic knowledge, attitudes,
expectations and intentions are initially most
influenced by their families.’
(Velleman, ‘Children, young people and alcohol: how they learn and how to
prevent excessive use’, JRF 2009)
Key research findings
Special Educational Needs
• The evidence on the relationship between alcohol use
and special education needs is limited
• The relationship between different types of special
educational needs and alcohol use will vary
• Young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties
as a group are at increased risk to substance misuse
particularly alcohol
• Adults with ADHD have high rates of alcohol
dependence (41%)
• Young people with special educational needs may be
more vulnerable to problems later in life like
A study from Plymouth reports that:
“There is…compelling evidence that children who
have behavioural, emotional or social difficulties
are at risk of developing substance misuse
problems. This is further supported through work
undertaken locally looking at the histories of some
very high risk, high harm young adults, most of
whom all received additional educational support
whilst at primary school.”
When do you think alcohol
use is a problem for
young people?
Warning signs of alcohol harm
Being drunk more often than in the past
Taking the day off because of a hangover
Having arguments or accidents because of drinking
Getting into trouble (fights, drink-driving)
Regretting and feeling guilty about behaviour whilst
under the influence
Worsening performance at school
Loss of interest in sports or other activities
Lying about drinking levels
Covering up drinking and the cost of it
Young people who will make changes to
their drinking
Young people who are resistant to change
Important changes…
What needs to happen to improve responses for
looked after children and young people with
special educational needs around alcohol related
In your practice
In your organisation
Top three priorities
For your copy of the tool kit:
Alcohol Learning Centre website
Alcohol Concern
Calling Time
[email protected]

A tool kit for supporting vulnerable young people at risk of alcohol