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South Dunedin social workers are to receive training in dealing with youths who have alcohol and drug problems.
Starting in May, the Southern Primary Health Organisation (PHO) will run two training workshops in South Dunedin.
The move is part of the South Dunedin Social Sector Trial's goal of reducing young people's drug and alcohol use.
About 30 professionals working with young people in the area are expected to attend.
Southern PHO health promotion team leader Louise Thompson said the workshops were based on a programme that had been running in Central Otago and Southland for about two years.
Participants would be taught to deal with young people, including how to deliver brief advice based on evidence.
The best way for young people to avoid harm from alcohol was to delay their intake of alcohol because it affected their brains differently than adults', Ms Thompson said.
Alcohol abuse not only had short-term impacts, it also had a longer-term, chronic impact.
Because delaying drinking was not always possible, advice would include guidelines to reduce risk, she said.
According to the Government's Health Promotion Agency, children and young adults' developing brains were more vulnerable to alcohol's negative impact on memory and learning.
Young people had a lower tolerance of alcohol and were more at risk of alcohol-related accidents and alcohol dependence.
In 2011, 9.6% of 16-to-24-year-olds in Otago and Southland (4608 people) had some kind of substance-abuse disorder, according to the Southern District Health Board.
Alcohol abuse was most common (3408 people). Concern about alcohol and drug abuse was a key issue raised by a South Dunedin Social Sector Trial survey of young people.