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Young people have to work through a broad range of issues as they move from childhood to adulthood. They may have to deal with changes to their bodies and their feelings, and they may be thinking about having their first relationship or having. Young people may also be exploring their identities in terms of their sexuality or gender identity. They may want more independence from their families, and their friends may play a more important part in their lives. Some may also want to experiment with alcohol and other drugs.
Although growing up can be an exciting time, it can also be confusing and challenging. Evidence suggests that confident young people who feel supported by their families and friends are more likely to safely negotiate issues like these. However, it is important to remember that adolescence is typically a time for experimenting with risky behaviours, despite good parenting and role modelling.
Teenagers and smoking Despite widespread media campaigns, tobacco smoking is still popular among Australian youth, especially young women, though the proportion of young people who smoke cigarettes is declining. Smoking tobacco increases young people’s risk of: Cancers of the lung, throat and mouth Reduced lung function Asthma and other respiratory problems Stunted growth Damaged senses of smell and taste Heart disease, major heart attack or stroke
Teenagers and illicit drugs Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) is an illicit drug commonly used by young people. Almost 14 per cent of 12 to 17 year old secondary students have tried it at least once. Other commonly used illicit drugs include hallucinogens, amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy, with around seven per cent of 12 to 17 year olds having used one of these at least once. It is often assumed that young people turn to illicit drugs to ease depression or anxiety, but most try drugs simply for fun. Young men are more likely than young women to experiment with illicit drugs. Those who smoke tobacco and drink alcohol are also more inclined to try illicit drugs than those who do not.
Teenagers and suicide Research suggests that more young women than young men attempt suicide, but young men are far more likely to succeed in taking their own lives. In the past 10 years, the suicide rate for males aged 15 to 24 years has dropped considerably. However, young men living in rural and remote areas are more likely than those living in the city to take their own lives.
Things to remember: Tobacco and alcohol are the drugs young people are most likely to use. Young men are more likely than young women to drink alcohol and take other drugs and are at greater risk of suicide. Young people need access to comprehensive, factual information about sexuality to safely negotiate adult relationships.