About the Alcohol Education Trust
Who we are
The Alcohol Education Trust (AET) is a small focused charity which works across the UK to keep young people safe around alcohol and other substances. We are a leading early intervention charity that enables young people age 11- 25 to make more informed, safer life choices through the schools and youth organisations we support free of charge with award winning resources and training.
To support parents, carers, teachers & community leaders to keep young people safe around alcohol and other substances and to reduce negative risk taking.
What we do
We aim to reach children before they begin drinking and help them work out why it makes sense to wait until they are older (if they choose to drink) and how early and heavy drinking increases their risk of injury, accidents and assault and makes them more vulnerable to others and other risk taking. We build young people’s resilience and life skills, helping them make responsible, informed choices as they encounter alcohol and other substances.
As young adults begin to navigate the world of parties, pubs, clubs, festivals and independence, we equip them with the knowledge, awareness and strategies needed to stay safer around alcohol and drugs.
TRAIN THE WORKFORCE
We train teachers and professionals working with children and young people in how to deliver evidence-based, interactive and enjoyable alcohol and drug awareness to young people of different abilities and backgrounds in a variety of settings.
IMPROVE LEARNING AND LIFE CHANCES
Our interactive activity-based and award-winning Talk About Alcohol programme is evidenced to improve knowledge and delay the age that teenagers choose to drink whole drinks. We focus on regions where alcohol harms are highest and have bespoke approaches for those most vulnerable to alcohol and drug misuse, such as care experienced children and victims of childhood trauma.
SUSTAINABLE, AFFORDABLE LEGACY
Those we train become our ambassadors and cascade their learning to others, meaning Talk About Alcohol costs just 50p per child. We continue to update resources, provide professional development and ongoing phone/email support.
STRENGTHEN ROLE MODELS AND BOUNDARY SETTING
As parents and carers are the prime suppliers of alcohol to children, we build parental confidence, knowledge and skills around alcohol, vaping and cannabis. We encourage parents to monitor their children and to understand the risks associated with under age drinking, particularly in unsupervised settings.
PROVIDE DIVERSIONARY ACTIVITIES
We encourage and facilitate diversionary activities for young people that build community cohesion and so help reduce anti-social behaviour, crime and the onset of drinking and substance use.
A joined up approach to reduce alcohol-related harm
Why We Are Needed
CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
- Children who drink regularly and heavily before the age of 15 are significantly more likely to try drugs, smoke, engage in unprotected or risky sex, be injured or assaulted. GCSE predictions fall by 20 points, the difference between a grade 9 and a grade 5. Early drinking is also a significant predictor of problematic use in later life.
- Young people who use drugs when 14 or younger have the greatest risk for drug dependence (34% prevalence rate of lifetime drug use disorders). It is also a significant predictor of lifetime alcohol dependence. The most likely choice of drug by far for young adults is cannabis ( I in 3 have tried, one in 10 use regularly) with vaping use growing rapidly.
- In 2021, 25% of 15 year-olds thought it was OK to try cannabis, and 14% thought it was OK to use it once a week.
The number of young people attending specialist substance misuse services in 2020/21 was 11,0133. In 77% of cases, cannabis was the primary substance. Drugs other than cannabis were the primary substance for only 8% of persons.
An estimated 1 in 10 under the age of 25 have experienced having their drink spiked or needle spiking and there were 5,000 cases reported to the police in 2022.
- Peers may influence other young people to engage in or refrain from substance use directly or indirectly, there is a dramatic rise in levels of use among young people who believe most or all of their friends drink or take drugs.
- Young people who experience childhood adversity and trauma such as emotional or physical abuse, family breakdown or neglect are particularly at risk. A young person experiencing four traumas is 11 times more likely to smoke cannabis and 4 times more likely to binge drink.
- It is estimated that 14% of care leavers drink alcohol every day, a third use cannabis and a third use alcohol as ways to cope, deal with anxiety or to help forget trauma.
- Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are three times more likely to face addiction when older. A diagnosis of
- ADHD or associated behavioural disorder is the greatest predictor of problematic alcohol or drug use.
- Children with learning difficulties are three times more likely to be abused, with alcohol a factor in grooming and violence.
- Young people who drop out of school, are 4 times more likely to be regular cannabis users and 1.2 times more likely to binge drink.
- Excluded children are five times more likely to have used alcohol or drugs on the last month. In 2019/20, 8,099 children were excluded for a fixed period and 513 were excluded permanently from state schools in England due to alcohol or drugs.
- Alcohol and Drugs can be both a cause and consequence of homelessness and the homeless population is 10 times more likely to be in treatment for alcohol or drugs. 35% of deaths of homeless people were related to drug poisoning in 2021 and 10% were alcohol-specific deaths.
- Prison surveys suggest that 40% of inmates were under the influence of alcohol and 45% were under the influence of drugs at the time of committing an offence.
- Lack of stable employment and lack of stable housing are significant contributors to poor mental health and turning to drink or drugs to cope with deprivation. The most deprived are 7 times more likely to have an alcohol related hospital admission and 16 times more likely to have a drugs related hospital admission.
- Young people living with alcohol or drug dependent parents/carers report living highly disrupted and chaotic lives, characterised by unpredictability and insecurity. They also experience shame, stigma, and discrimination due to their association with a parent who uses substances.
- Between 2018/19-2020/21 there were 10,569 alcohol-specific hospital admissions for under 18s in England – that’s nearly 30 per day. The UK is one of the few countries in the world where more girls are admitted than boys.
- A whole school approach for every child is crucial, so that we can equip all young people with the skills, knowledge and tools to make safer choices before consumption begins. The likelihood of lifetime substance misuse drops 4-5% for each year use is delayed, hence independent evaluation showing that our Talk About Alcohol programme significantly raises the age teenagers choose to drink is paramount to improving young peoples life chances.
- We engage children with an interactive online platform talkaboutalcohol.com that encourages them to build knowledge and find out in a fun way, through games and quizzes, about the effects of alcohol on their physical and mental wellbeing.
Our activities, rehearsal strategies and role play allow young people to work out for themselves the effect of impulsive behaviour or drinking too much, enabling them to make more responsible, informed choices.
- We have developed a complex suite of resources and training using proven communication methods for young people with learning difficulties using colours, stories, scenarios, pictures, emojis, cartoons and techniques such as distancing and using characters.
We include cannabis and vaping in our early intervention and harm reduction approaches and support young people, schools, youth and sports clubs as well as parents around both cannabis and vaping.
- We focus our training and support workers in areas of high deprivation where alcohol-related harms are highest.
- We have targeted streams of work supporting care experienced children and those who face a greater risk of alcohol dependency & misuse.
- We reduce the potential harms from alcohol and cannabis to 16 – 25 year-olds by equipping them with the knowledge, awareness and life skills to make safer choices and where to go for help and support.
- We correct social norms – namely the fact that most young people do not use drugs or get drunk.
- We work closely with partners who ensure disadvantaged young people are given the best chances through building their self esteem, life skills, training and employability. We support staff with training, resources and the skills to support young adults around alcohol and cannabis misuse and vaping.
- We work closely with virtual school and foster agencies who support care experienced children and care leavers. We have a bespoke alcohol and cannabis programme for 16 – 25 year olds leaving care or at risk of homelessness living in assisted accommodation. Training and resources enable life coaches to have one to one conversations around higher harms, levels of use, consequences, grooming, consent and other relevant issues.
- We support young people in alternative education and provide training and resources to those working with them.
- We work very closely with the Youth Offending Teams as well as training staff in pupil referral units being careful not to trigger trauma or stigma at all times.
- Our staff training and materials at all times avoid stigma and triggering trauma and highlight the importance of being supportive, empathetic, non judgemental and how to offer targeted support and referral to specialist family charities working in this area specifically.
SCHOOLS AND HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
- Health Education became a statutory requirement for schools to deliver in September 2020, including alcohol and drug education. Teachers and youth workers cite not having enough time and not being subject experts as barriers to delivering effective health education.
- In 2019/20, nearly 9,000 exclusions were issued by schools in England due to drugs and alcohol.
- Schools generally have little budget, training or guidance for RSHE.
- Charities and commissioned services supporting vulnerable children and young adults lack the expertise, resources and training to support them around alcohol and drugs
- We provide an easy one stop shop for busy, time-poor teachers where they can download lesson plans, implementation and evaluation guidance by topic or by ability for each year group.
- We make our evidenced Talk About Alcohol programme available free of charge to all secondary schools across Britain.
- We train teachers and provide ongoing guidance so they feel confident and knowledgeable in teaching about alcohol and other substances
- We provide games, one to one and small group activities suitable for use with young people in alternative settings, sports and youth clubs together with free training.
- We provide workshops, training and resources to life coaches and mentors of young adults in settings such as Foyers, Housing Associations and for organisations such as The Prince’s Trust.
COMMUNITIES AND FAMILIES
- Parents and carers are the prime suppliers of alcohol to under 18s.
- Children living in households where parents drink to excess are more likely to drink early and problematically.
- Those who use alcohol or drugs have significantly lower parental supervision than those who don’t use substances.
- Parenting that increases alcohol and drug use includes: a lack of parental monitoring, high levels of parent/child conflict & a child’s lack of willingness to disclose information to their parents.
- The greater the number of unsupervised evenings with friends, the greater the likelihood that young people will report having consumed alcohol in the last week and having used drugs in the last month.
- Our research shows that 93% of parents and carers overestimate the number of teenagers who drink and get drunk and so supply their children with alcohol, thinking they’ll get it elsewhere, otherwise.
- We help parents and carers to understand why drinking at too young an age and drinking too much can harm their child’s short and long term health and also how drinking outside of the home raises the likelihood of other risk taking such as smoking or taking drugs.
- We correct perceived social norms with positive messages on how teenagers are drinking and getting drunk far less than they were 10 years ago.
- We give positive parenting tips that reduce all risk taking such as how to set boundaries, be a good role model and know where their children are.
- We empower parents to resist teen pressure and manipulation.
Impact and reach
Impacts and awards