Module 6: how drugs work: learner's workbook

2.2 Why is pharmacology important?

Page last updated: 2004

Since alcohol and other drug (AOD) use is a part of youth culture, it is important to understand how drugs work if you work with young people.

Case studies

William is a 19-year-old student at a TAFE college. He was driving home the morning after a Bachelor and Spinster's Ball, where he drank about 12 cans of beer. When he arrived back in town, 50km away, he was tested by police with a random breath testing unit. His blood alcohol reading was 0.09 percent, although he had slept in his car for eight hours before driving home.

Uma, 15, was arrested for stealing a handbag. Twelve hours after her arrest, while still in custody, she begins to shiver and complains of feeling sick.

Matthew is a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy attending school near Broome in Western Australia. His teacher has noticed a rapid deterioration in the quality of his school work. His memory is much worse than it used to be and he often complains of headaches.

Emily, 17, is a regular resident of an accommodation service for young people in the inner city. Following a six-week break from heroin while on a rehabilitation program, she returned to the refuge, and that evening used heroin. She collapsed outside the house and was taken by ambulance to hospital.

Kayla, 18, is a student at university. She lives with a couple of other friends in the city. Last week she went out with her friends for lunch and drove her car to the pub where they had a counter meal. On the way home she was involved in a minor car crash as she failed to give way at an intersection. When the police attended the scene Kayla was pale, shaking, with slurred speech and disorientated.


Question - Do you think all the young people in the case studies are experiencing AOD-related problems?

Answer - (Write your answer, then check the possible answers page.)

Question - How do you think some knowledge of how drugs work could assist a police officer, teacher or youth worker to help young people like William, Uma, Matthew, Emily or Kayla?

Answer - (Write your answer, then check the possible answers page.)

Question - How might one of these young people experience more harm from their drug use if the staff and/or police working with them had no such knowledge?