Friends and families of substance misusers/drug addicts are often faced with a situation they feel totally unprepared to cope with. This begins with a basic lack of information on drug and alcohol awareness issues. This results in drug addiction being often misunderstood and even more difficult to cope with.
Parents may be too afraid to seek help, deterred by the stigma of having a drug user in the family and worrying about what people will think of them. There are also serious concerns because their son or daughter is breaking the law, potentially facing exclusion from school and sometimes even facing charges of possession and/or supply of an illegal drug. These things can make it seem impossible to approach the authorities to gain the professional help they need for fear of the legal implications.
David Blunkett formally the UK Home Secretary, in 2003 launched a two-year anti-stigma campaign. This was intended to help dispel shame and embarrassment which may be experienced by families of drug users and addicts which can prevent the access of the advice and support needed.
The Government’s Strategy on Drugs aims to encompass not just those with the drug addiction problem, but the families and relations of drug users to- the ‘forgotten victims of drug abuse’. This is delivered by providing services for carers and parents. Part of this campaign was the introduction of FRANK, an independent Government funded drugs helpline which replaced the National Drugs Helpline.
In a seven month period in 2007, the total number of calls made to FRANK was 26,059 which is an average of over 120 calls per day, illustrating the obvious public need for further information on drug and alcohol abuse/addiction.
A breakdown of the calls made to FRANK shows that the drug which was the subject of the most calls was Cannabis / Marijuana, totalling 6617 calls which represent just over 25 percent of the total number of calls within the period. According to statistics, this is the most widely taken illegal drug in schools. This was closely followed by Cocaine totalling 5728 calls at just under 22 percent of the total call volume.
At the other end of the scale, the two drugs receiving the fewest calls were Viagra, attracting 11 calls and Khat, (a herbal stimulant which is legal within the UK, although illegal in many countries including the USA) attracting 6 calls.
Although alcohol abuse and binge-drinking is an increasing problem in society, calls regarding this only accounted for 2.92 percent of the calls.
Friends of Drug users or parents concerned about their children can access advice immediately regarding every aspect of drug and alcohol addiction anonymously and in the strictest of confidence.
The free and confidential FRANK helpline, also found online at www.talktofrank.com, aims to support families as well as users and contains an A – Z of drugs, FAQ sections, details of where to find support, etc. Drug-Aware were recently added to the talk to frank database as a useful resource for their website visitors. Visit our listing which is on talk to frank.
For further help advice and support:
In the UK, call Talk To Frank, the Government funded drugs/alcohol helpline on 0800 77 66 00 or http://www.talktofrank.com
In the USA, call Addiction Search toll free on 1-800-559-9503 or http://www.addictionsearch.com for someone to help and assist you in the right direction.
Some parents may choose to purchase home drug tests as the first step towards regaining some control over their child’s drug and alcohol abuse/addiction.
Drug Addiction: Drug Testing Children or Teenagers
Someone recently asked what my position was on drug testing children/teenagers. Here is a brief version of my answer.
Based on the latest statistics most people who start using drugs do so in their early teens. Incredibly, the average starting age for heroin in many cities throughout the United Kingdom is only 15 years old. A survey of over 20,000 school children showed 9% of 13-year-olds and 27% (over a quarter!) of 15-year-olds had used illegal drugs at some time or another.
So should a quarter of parents wait until their 15-year-old children are already doing drugs or are addicted to taking any action?
Testing gets all of the cards on the table and opens up communication – showing that you are looking out for them and offering them a valid excuse when faced with peer pressure to take drugs.
I personally went through my late teens working in a forensics lab and my regular employee drug testing helped me avoid the numerous offers of drugs I received from friends of friends and when out socialising – all without losing any credibility, etc.