March 2009

Arts & Letters

‘Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs: What Your Kids Really Want and Need to Know About Alcohol and Drugs’ by Paul Dillon

By Chris Middendorp

Paul Dillon’s calm guide to adolescent drug and alcohol use is a handy anodyne for all those parents who fear they will overheat like the reactor core at Chernobyl if they ever find a bag of pills in 16-year-old Sebastian’s sock drawer. Dillon is an Australian drug educator whose experiences over 25 years have taught him that prevalent community opinions about substance use are often based on myths which have been assiduously cultivated by TV police dramas and spurious current-affairs bulletins. “As much as the media would love to tell you that there are drug dealers hanging out at the end of the schoolyard,” he writes, “this is not the case, and illicit drugs are not that easy to come by.”

Are bongs safer than joints? Is cannabis 30 times stronger than it used to be? Does one of the drugs used in drink spiking sterilise the victim? There isn’t a drug myth going that Dillon doesn’t examine and neatly debunk. Even the most inured and world-weary reader is likely to uncover something new here. Dillon’s tone is as informal as it is instructive, and he dispenses wisdom without generating moral panic. “Most young people have never tried illegal drugs,” he reminds us. “They have no interest in these substances and never will.”

But Dillon also acknowledges that, should a teenager experiment with substances and get drunk, wasted or otherwise intoxicated, it could help immeasurably if his parents or friends know how to provide the appropriate care. Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs includes some practical strategies that, if followed, could prevent serious brain injury or death.

While emotive government ad campaigns provoke angst and sometimes ridicule for their gaudy depictions of stoned, obstreperous teenagers in drug-induced peril, this pragmatic and humane book prefers to eschew cant and hysteria and allow the facts to speak for themselves. It promotes tolerance and open communication, and it recognises that drugs are a fact of life: they will not simply go away. The information Dillon provides here will help ensure that when you decide to have that little drug talk with your children (or anyone else’s), you will actually have something worth saying.

From the front page

Image of former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian in September. Image © Dan Himbrechts / AAP Images

Gladys for Warringah?

In attempting to take down an independent MP, Morrison is helping pro-integrity candidates across the country

Image of Oscar Isaac as William Tell in The Card Counter. Photograph © Focus Features

Debt burden: Paul Schrader’s ‘The Card Counter’

The acclaimed writer-director indulges his experimental streak in a thriller that inverts the popular conception of the gambling man

Still from ‘No Time To Die’

The Bond market: ‘Dune’ and ‘No Time To Die’

Blockbuster season begins with a middling 007 and a must-see sci-fi epic

Image of Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese during Question Time earlier this week. Image © Mick Tsikas / AAP Images

Go figure

How did Labor end up with an emissions-reduction target of just 43 per cent?

In This Issue

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Sinking sandbanks

Strangers in the night

Robert Forster on Roberta Flack & Leonard Cohen live
Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Hideout

Tales of the city

Gus Van Sant’s ‘Milk’


More in Arts & Letters

Bing Crosby and David Bowie on Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, circa 1977.

Oh, carols!

The music of Christmas, from the manger to the chimney

Image of Gerald Murnane

Final sentence: Gerald Murnane’s ‘Last Letter to a Reader’

The essay anthology that will be the final book from one of Australia’s most idiosyncratic authors

Image of The Kid Laroi

New kid on the block: The Kid Laroi

How Australia has overlooked its biggest global music star, an Indigenous hip-hop prodigy

Still from ‘No Time To Die’

The Bond market: ‘Dune’ and ‘No Time To Die’

Blockbuster season begins with a middling 007 and a must-see sci-fi epic


More in Noted

Cover of ‘Crossroads’

‘Crossroads’ by Jonathan Franzen

The acclaimed US author’s latest novel is a 1971 church drama modelled on ‘Middlemarch’

Still from ‘Yellowjackets’

‘Yellowjackets’

The US drama about teen plane-crash survivors is a heady mix of folk horror and high-school betrayal

Still from ‘New Gold Mountain’

‘New Gold Mountain’

SBS’s Australian goldfields series looks beyond colonial orthodoxies to tell the neglected stories

Cover of ‘The Magician’

‘The Magician’ by Colm Tóibín

The Irish novelist’s latest ponders creativity and the unacknowledged life of Thomas Mann


Online exclusives

Image of Oscar Isaac as William Tell in The Card Counter. Photograph © Focus Features

Debt burden: Paul Schrader’s ‘The Card Counter’

The acclaimed writer-director indulges his experimental streak in a thriller that inverts the popular conception of the gambling man

Image of The Beatles and Yoko Ono during the ‘Let It Be’ sessions. Image © Apple Records / Disney+

‘Get Back’ is ‘slow TV’ for Beatles nuts

Despite plenty of magical moments, Peter Jackson’s eight-hour epic is the work of a fanatic, and will likely only be watched in full by other fanatics

Image of John Wilson in How To with John Wilson. Image courtesy of HBO / Binge

Candid camera: ‘How To with John Wilson’

Both delightfully droll and genuinely moving, John Wilson’s idiosyncratic documentary series is this month’s streaming standout

Image of Clint Eastwood in Cry Macho. Image © Claire Folger / Warner Bros.

Slow motions: Clint Eastwood’s ‘Cry Macho’

Despite patient filmmaking, the 91-year-old director’s elegiac feature is unable to escape the legend of the man