Drug addiction is an illness that most parents fear their children will be affected by. While many parents do everything in their power to dissuade their kids from experimenting with drugs and alcohol, for some it is inevitable that their teenage son or daughter will try it anyway. The good news is that most teenagers who experiment with these chemical substances will never have a problem. The bad news is that some will go on to become dependent on drugs or alcohol, and these devastating addictions can destroy families.
Richard Smith has written an article for The Telegraph about his son’s drug addiction and is using his experience to educate children on the dangers of drugs.
Richard’s son became a drug addict at the young age of fourteen; he is now almost thirty-one. He said that his son began experimenting with cannabis with his friends, just like many other teenagers do. However, Richard’s son did not stop with cannabis. He started trying various other drugs and substances and, unfortunately, developed an addiction that began to have a devastating impact on his life. His addiction meant he was unable to function, which meant he could not hold down a job.
Just like many parents of a child with addiction, Richard and his wife Laura have forked out thousands of pounds to try to help their son. Richard says that he and Laura have paid more than £250,000 to keep their son safe and says this is a price they felt was worth paying to keep him off the streets and save him from ‘certain death’.
Their son was just nineteen when they sent him to a rehabilitation facility, which set them back £10,000. Richard said, “It gave us a break and seemed to help him – temporarily.”
Unfortunately, he relapsed soon after leaving rehab and returned to live with his parents. Richard and Laura decided to pay for their son to attend music college, where he gained a teaching qualification. He was offered a job with the college as a guitar tutor. However, after his first day on the job, he bought some ‘legal highs’ in a head shop he had passed. It was not long before his addiction had returned and he was once again using a number of substances.
Richard says he has ‘mixed feelings’ about the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. He is worried that the closure of head shops and the restricted access to these substances online will only serve to move the trade underground. He said that this will just ‘raise the cost of the drugs and so trigger more crime and social disorder’.
Richard’s son lost his job at the music college soon after buying the legal highs from the head shop. Richard said things quickly went downhill as his son started running up debts and selling his possessions in order to fund his habit. While this was going on, he had joined a band, but during a tour, he took an overdose, and his parents decided to admit him to rehab once more.
His son’s addiction began to take a toll on his health, and he started to show signs of poor mental health. He was self-harming, anxious, paranoid and, at times, psychotic.
The addiction was also causing problems for Richard and Laura, and Richard admitted that they felt angry, but because of the stigma attached to the illness, they did not talk about it with others or seek help from professionals. He admits they were struggling to cope, but still kept the illness ‘within the family’.
After leaving rehab, Richard’s son went back to the band he had been a member of, and his parents arranged for him to live on the estate where they were based. He earned a living by working maintenance on the estate and lived in a caravan there. For a while, things were good, but he was unable to stay sober, and when caught with drugs he had purchased online, he was evicted from the caravan and asked to leave the band.
He went back to live with his parents, but his drug abuse continued. Richard did what so many other parents do when struggling to cope with a child’s drug addiction; he tried to fix the problem himself. He began buying drugs for his son and would give them to him every day while slowly reducing the amount each time.
Nevertheless, the family got to the point where they knew they needed external help, and Richard and Laura contacted a charity from which they have been getting support for the past three years. Richard knows the importance of family support when it comes to addiction and is now working hard to help others in a similar situation. He runs an educational programme called Sevenco, which aims to warn school children of the dangers of drugs. He wants to make sure as few children as possible end up struggling with drug addiction like his son.
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