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Tackling Drug Addiction - For Parents and Families

Information for the friends, parents and families of drug addicts

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Families and friends of drug abusers / drug addicts are often faced with a situation they feel totally unequipped to deal with, beginning with a basic lack of information and drug and alcohol awareness.  As a result drug addiction is often misunderstood.

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 the more serious concerns about their son or daughter breaking the law, possibly facing expulsion from school or even facing charges of possession or supply of an illicit 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.

In 2003, David Blunkett, then the UK Home Secretary, launched a two year anti-stigma campaign to help dispel the feelings of shame and embarrassment experienced by some families of drug users / drug addicts which sometimes prevents them from accessing the support and advice they need. 

The Government’s Drug Strategy aimed to encompass not just those with a drug addiction, but the families of drug users – the ‘forgotten victims of drug abuse’ – by providing services for parents and carers.  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 for the period between 1 April 2007 to 1 November 2007 shows that the drug which was the subject of the most calls was Cannabis / Marijuana, totalling 6617 calls which represents just over 25 percent of the total number of calls within the seven month 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.

Parents concerned about their children, or friends of drug users, can access immediate advice regarding all aspects of drugs and alcohol addiction in confidence and anonymously.

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 talktofrank database as a useful resource for their website visitors.  Visit our listing on talktofrank.

If you need further help / support:

In the UK, I would advise you to call Talk To Frank, the Government funded drugs / alcohol helpline on 0800 77 66 00 or http://www.talktofrank.com

In the USA, I would suggest you call Addiction Search toll free on 1-800-559-9503 or http://www.addictionsearch.com for someone to steer 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. The average starting age for heroin in many cities in the UK is just 15, and a survey of over 20,000 UK school children showed that 9% of 13 year olds and over a quarter (27%) of 15 year olds had used an illegal drug at some point in their lives.

So should a quarter of parents wait until their 15 year old children are already doing drugs or are addicted before 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 by 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.

Visit our home drug tests FAQ page for home drug testing frequently asked questions.

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