The presentations can be aimed at and adapted for schools, sporting teams and youth groups.
Alcohol Identity: The good, the bad and the ugly of Australian drinking culture!
Whether we agree or not, Australian culture writes us into a narrative that losing control of our senses on substances is fun & normal. Legally however, being affected by alcohol and drugs is not an excuse for behaving inappropriately. We are still responsible for those decisions.
The approach of this presentation is to look at the different reasons people use substances and balance these motivations against their own long-term goals and behavioural ethics. This includes a basic understanding of how substances affect our brain's decision making processes. Weaved within the research-supported presentation is the personal testimony of James becoming a problem drinker before compromising his dream of playing rugby for Australia and finding a way to stand up for what he believes in rather than be a slave to alcohol and a dancing monkey wanting to appease other people's interests.
The message is not one of do or don't drink, it is of becoming responsible for your own decisions, finding effective coping strategies to deal with setbacks and to increase self-efficacy to say no when you don't want to drink or you've realised that alcohol is compromising how you want to live your life. It also examines shame in the context of substance abuse and addiction.
1. Identify motivations for substance use.
2. Weigh up the positive and negative reasons for use.
3. Understand the neuropsychology of alcohol on the brain.
4. Develop self-efficacy and party strategies around drink/drug refusal.
5. Understand shame cycles around abuse and addiction.
Key terms: alcohol identity, motivational interviewing, ethical practice, refusal self-efficacy, shame cycle.
"James has a natural way of relating his own personal experience with an impressive knowledge to students in a way that is engaging. He manages to communicate deep issues in a way that doesn’t isolate or offend students but rather invites them to be proactive in the decisions they make around alcohol and party culture." (Caitlin Humphreys, Trinity College, Beenleigh Campus Minister)
Men of Substance - Men of Character! (N.B. Can be adapted to specific values or virtues of schools, sporting teams or groups of young men 14+)
Some in the media have stated that to say..."Be a man"... to boys is a destructive message. This has to depend on how the message is being received. What if a clear message was being reinforced:
Why is integrity the most important characteristic we carry? Because it holds the key to both subjective well-being & being true to yourself. Do you have the character to carry your talent? We are all trying to work out what we believe is right according to our ethical system and then walk consistently to those. But what happens? Like most people, at some stage we become a dancing monkey! Dancing to the pleasure of what other people wanted us to be or we dance according to our unmet needs.
The journey to developing men with character is to be 100% responsible for every decision you make. To understand what you stand for and walk accordingly. Not being a chameleon that changes its colours for every environment & then feels down for not standing for what they believe in. Finding strength in themselves but also in having good friends, mentors or other support networks to stand strong in the arena of life!
I cannot thank James enough for his excellent presentation to the students in our program. He was able to tailor his presentation specifically for us, making the session even more meaningful for our students. His messages about personal character, integrity and mental toughness took our Core Values from words on a page, to principles to live by.
Paul Stanley: Rugby League Coordinator
Wavell State High School