Parents Understanding Drugs


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What is an addict?

A person's life does not need to be a mess for them to be an addict.

An addict can be a person living on the streets begging to survive, or a high functioning professional with good friends, a loving family, and a successful career.

A person who drinks too much every weekend may be an addict. A person who takes painkillers most days, may be an addict. A person who cannot relax in social situations withou a drink or an E first, may be an addict.

It is better to be safe rather than sorry. If there is even the slightest chance of a problem, seek non-judgemental, confidential advice.

What should you do?

See a GP.

Whether you are concerned about yourself or someone else, the first thing to do is to visit your GP.

A GP will not judge, and a GP consultation is confidential. Furthermore, a GP is familiar with and has access to the services and treatments to deal with addiction.

There are many wonderful organisatons like FRANK and Release that can provide outstanding information and advice. Both offer outstanding services that are confidential and non-judgemental. Speak to them to answer questions, but if after doing so, there is any concern that there might be a problem, book an appointment with your GP.

What does treatment involve?

This will depend on where you lie on the ‘addiction spectrum’. Your doctor will help you figure this out and refer you to the appropriate service. If your body is physically dependent on a substance, then you need to detox it from your system. This will be medically assisted so you come off your evil-of-choice in a gradual and safe way. Group therapy will follow, as well as individual discussions looking at the reasons behind your addiction. If you take a substance at hazardous levels, but your body is not physically dependent on it, you will probably be referred to a psychologist, community health nurse, or Cognitive Behaviour Therapist. They can help you look at ways to change your pattern of consumption. Much as you might scoff at the idea of needing help with your mental health, there are usually underlying psychological reasons for your habit that can be addressed. “Addiction help isn’t about a doctor repeatedly telling you, ‘this is bad for you’. It’s about working with the person and looking at the pros and cons of using,” says Dr Hill. “You weigh up the reasons for staying the same and the reasons for changing, and this is where it gets interesting. This is where addicts start seeing light at the end of the tunnel.” Do I have to give up drugs and alcohol FOREVER? This is probably one of the biggest fears addicts have to overcome before seeking help. The thought of a lifetime abstaining from something you like very much indeed can be pretty off-putting. “Not everyone can get their head round total abstinence for the rest of their life,” says Dr Hill. “That’s often a stumbling block you need to get over with a therapist. And if someone doesn’t want to abstain completely from a drug, then therapy might be more about reducing consumption to a safer level.” Recovery is a process and not an end in itself. Take it one day at a time. For example, if you’re a heavy drinker, telling yourself “I’ll try not to drink tomorrow” instead of “I can never drink again” might help. Hard though it might be, it’s worth being optimistic about the future. “You’ve got to have a good reason to change,” says Dr Hill. “Life is going to get better, more tolerable, more interesting, with a future of more meaning and purpose.” Can I treat my addiction by myself? You can certainly try, but statistics aren’t on your side. And if your body is physically dependent on a substance then doing self-induced cold turkey is potentially dangerous. Beating the addiction isn’t an easy thing to do; you will need all the support you can get. Fortunately, it’s there, and the fact you’re even reading this article shows a part of you wants help.

FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice and information on all things drugs-related to anyone including users, families, friends, and carers. Call on 0300 123 6600.

Release offers free and confidential advice on drugs related subjects and drugs law, provining referrals to lawyers and local drug services. Call on 020 7324 2989

Addaction helps change behaviour from drug or alcohol abuse to worries about mental health. Call on 020 7251 5860.

Young People - For information about drugs check out the information on run by YouthNet UK

Agencies which provide support and information

  • SupportLine Telephone Helpline: 01708 765200 email Provides emotional support and keeps details of local agencies providing help and support for all issues relating to Drugs.
  • Action on Addiction: 0300 330 0659 Range of abstinence based treatment services for people with severe dependency on alcohol and drugs. Residential care, day treatment, outpatient counselling and community services. Projects in SW London and Liverpool areas. (
  • Adfam: 020 7553 7640 Supporting families affected by drugs and alcohol. Provides publications for families (free for family members and friends) and details of local family support groups. Adfam works with family members affected by someone else's drug or alcohol use.
  • Blenheim CDP 020 7582 2200 Leading substance misuse charity working across London to reduce the harm by drug misuse to individuals and the public.
  • City Roads Crisis Intervention: 020 7278 8671 24hr telephone service UK wide and emergency residential care for drug users in crisis. Please note the service is for drug users in crisis only.
  • DAN 24/7 0808 808 2234 National Drug and Alcohol Helpline for people in Wales Families Anonymous: 0845 120 0660 Telephone and other support services for families and friends of drug users. 50 groups throughout the UK offering help and support to members based on the 12 step programme.
  • Frank: 0300 123 6600 Helpline for anyone concerned about drug or solvent misuse. Advice and information for drug misusers, their families, friends, carers. (Formerly known as the National Drugs Helpline).
  • Know the Score: 0800 587 5879 (Area served Scotland) Information line for the public in Scotland providing facts about drugs and their effects.
  • Phoenix Futures: Central Office 020 7234 9740 Scotland 0141 3364272 Charity and housing association which has been helping people overcome drug and alcohol problems for more than 40 years. Residential, prison, community and specialist services run across England and Scotland.
  • UK Narcotics Anonymous : 0300 999 1212, - Helpline and regular self help meetings for addicts who have a desire to stop using and who wish to support each other in remaining drug free.
  • Release: 020 7324 2989 Helpline and support for drug users, families, friends. Advice on drug related subjects including health, welfare and legal issues. Referrals to lawyers and local drug services.
  • Re-Solv Enquiries: Helpline: 01785 810762 Helpline providing information and support for people concerned about solvent or volatile substance abuse problems.
  • Turning Point: 020 7481 7600 To enable people with serious problems related to drug and alcohol misuse, mental health and learning disabilities to lead more independent lives by providing high quality community services. Run over 200 projects and schemes nationally ranging from residential rehabilitation centres to drop in counselling services, needle exchanges, phone advice services and individual community workers.

Useful websites For anyone fighting drug or addiction problems within their family or circle of friends and needs help, information, or just a shoulder to cry on. Smart Recovery UK runs a network of self help/mutual aid meetings where, through open and confidential discussion participants help each other and themselves with recovery from any kind of addictive behaviour. Also online community of meetings. The purpose is to help individuals seeking abstinence from addictive behaviours to gain independence, achieve recovery and lead meaningful and satisfying lives.

Drugs in the News

Nobel Peace Prize: Santos calls for 'rethink' of war on drugs


The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, has used his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to call for the world to "rethink" the war on drugs.

He said the zero-tolerance policy might be "even more harmful" than all the other wars being fought worldwide.Drugs workers fear a "bad batch of heroin" could have led to the deaths of at least seven drug users in recent weeks in the Gwent Police force area.

BBC News, 8 December 2016

Heroin deaths prompt 'fix room'


Drugs workers fear a "bad batch of heroin" could have led to the deaths of at least seven drug users in recent weeks in the Gwent Police force area.

BBC News, 26 November 2016

The babies starting life in rehab


According to NHS figures, 1,087 babies in England were affected by maternal use of drugs in 2014-15, while in Scotland 987 babies were affected.

BBC News, 25 November 2016

GHB: The killer drug


The Metropolitan Police has said it will examine 58 GHB-related deaths, following the conviction of serial killer Stephen Port.

BBC News, 25 November 2016

Club drug testing 'may be useful'


A leading police chief says recreational drug testing "may be very useful". Commander Bray is in discussion with the government about it.

Newsbeat, 24 November 2016

MPs call for cannabis legalisation


Britain should follow America's lead and legalise cannabis, and rake in £1 billion a year in tax revenues

Metro, 21 November 2016

Pharma's fight to block marijuana


Marijuana legalization will unleash misery on Arizona, according to a wave of television ads that started rolling out across the state last month.

Guardian, 22 October 2016

10 years for cannabis for cancer


Police in Denmark have arrested a man and woman on suspicion of providing cannabis to cancer patients and people with other serious illnesses.

Independent, 5 October 2016

UK National Drugs helpline: 0300 123 6600

The National Drugs Helpline is a 24-hour, 7-days a week, free and confidential telephone service that offers advice and information for anyone.

It is run by the government agency, known as FRANK, created to provide drug support and advice for the public.

If you need emergency help, are worried about a friend or relative's drug use or want support coping with your own, contact FRANK on-line contact or by phone.

11 Real Reasons Why Teenagers Experiment with Drugs


There is a common misconception that teenagers who experiment with drugs and alcohol are inherently "bad kids".

Many parents assume that teenagers experiment because they are rebellious and want to lash out. That may be the reason a small percentage of teenagers try drugs and alcohol today, but the dangerous trend is not that simple or one-sided. In order to understand us, you have to put yourself in our shoes and imagine what we are really experiencing. Do you remember what it was like to be a teen? Understanding is the first step to helping.

Norway to sentence some drug addicts to treatment rather than prison


Norway's courts will now be able to sentence drug-addicted convicts to treatment programmes instead of sending them to jail.

Following trials in Bergen and Oslo, the narkotikaprogrammet (narcotics programme) is being introduced nationwide, effective immediately.

Announcing the expansion of the programme, Justice Minister Anders Andundsen said: "We're rolling out a program that has been tested since 2006, in which addicts have been sentenced to treatment with concrete follow-up."

The positives and negatives: How marijuana affects mind and body

deciding to use cannabis should be done only after considering both the negative and positive 
                side effects of the drug

Recently legalised in the Washington and Colorado, marijuana has medical and recreational uses but can also be damaging. The high from marijuana comes from Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is found in varying potency.

Most of THC's effects happen in the brain, where the chemical interacts with cannibinoid receptors in the brain. Our bodies make chemicals similar to THC andTHC co-opts these natural pathways to produce most of its effects.

The Journal, 11 January 2014

Drug addiction should be treated like a learning disorder and not a crime


Since entering recovery 28 years ago, I've spent a lots of time thinking about addiction. The most common definition is "compulsive drug use despite negative consequences". It's odd then, that we use punishment to stop it.

During my addiction to heroin and cocaine, I kept using despite being suspended from Columbia University. I kept injecting despite losing friends - though difficulty socializing was one of the main reasons I took drugs in the first place. I kept on despite the risk of overdose death, disease, the disappointment of my family and the stigma.

Britain's online drugs market proves "futility of the war on drugs"


A new study revealing that the UK has Europe's largest online market for illegal drugs proves the "utter futility of the war on drugs", reform campaigners have claimed. After investigating eight of the world's largest "dark web" market places, researchers found that the UK's online drugs trade dwarfed that of other European countries and was second in size only to that of the US.

UK dark web sellers were doing 20,748 drug deals worth £1.8m a month, nearly double the 11,039 deals worth £920,000 in Europe's second largest online drugs market of Germany.

Drug deaths hit record levels


Drug-related deaths in England and Wales have hit record levels, official statistics show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal that a total of 3,674 drug poisoning deaths involving legal and illegal substances were recorded in 2015, up from 3,346 in 2014 and the most since records began in 1993.

Cocaine deaths reached an all-time high in 2015, and deaths involving heroin or morphine have doubled over 3 years to reach record levels.

David Cameron, you were right about drugs. Don't err and stray now


I agree with David Cameron. To clarify, the earlier incarnation of the prime minister. "I ask the Labour government not to return to retribution and war on drugs," he pleaded in 2002. "That has been tried and it does not work." As a member of the home affairs select committee on drug misuse, he voted to consider "the possibility of legalisation and regulation" of drugs.

When he stood for the Tory leadership in 2005, he declared "Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades."

Power of psychedelic drugs to lift mental distress shown in trials


When Aldous Huxley was dying in 1963, he asked his wife to inject him with LSD, and he passed away, she wrote afterwards, without any of the pain and distress that cancer can cause in the final hours.

Huxley, who wrote The Doors of Perception about his experience of taking the psychedelic drug mescaline, anticipated just such a death in his last novel, Island. At the time, many in the psychiatric field thought psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms, and LSD held huge promise to alleviate all kinds of severe mental distress.

The undercover cop who abandoned the war on drugs


Walking beside me through a market town centre is a lean, healthy, 46-year-old man. "So, you wanted me to show you how I used to look?" He draws in his stomach, rounds his shoulders, paws imaginary sweat from his cheeks, and suddenly I'm looking at a junkie - jumpy, wheedling, begging for a fix. "And this is how you walk when you're going to score heroin." Subtly hunched over a sunken midriff, he strides ahead, as fast as he can without breaking into a run. "It's all in the stomach," he grins when I've caught up.

Guardian, 26 August 2016

How the Epidemic of Drug Overdose Deaths Ripples Across America

New York Times, 19 January 2016

Australia's losing battle with prescription drugs


It was the absence of two phone calls, 16 years apart, that signalled the start and tragic end of Simon Millington's struggle with prescription drug addiction.

As midnight approached, his mother, Margaret Millington, began to panic as she waited for the call to explain his absence, usually made without fail.

"When it got to 4am or 5am, I knew something was wrong," Margaret says.

Guardian, 20 December 2016

Can You Get Over an Addiction?

New York Times, 25 June 2016

New drug W18 is '10,000 times more powerful than morphine'

Independent, 4 May 2016

Make heroin available on prescription, official UK drug advisers say


Heroin on prescription and supervised injecting rooms are among a range of measures that the government's drug advisers have suggested to reverse the UK's soaring numbers of drug deaths.

Responding to a sharp rise in the number of heroin-related deaths in recent years, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said maintenance of drug treatment programmes was essential to prevent further increases.

Guardian, 12 December 2016

Pills that kill: why are thousands dying from fentanyl abuse?


Natasha Butler had never heard of fentanyl until a doctor told her that a single pill had pushed her eldest son to the brink of death, and wasn't coming back.

"The doctor said fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. How did Jerome get it?" she asked as the tears came. "Jerome was on a respirator and unresponsive. The doctor told me all his organs had shut down. If he makes it he'll be a vegetable."

Guardian, 11 December 2016

Students used to take drugs to get high. Now they use for higher grades


It's still more than three months until finals, but there's a whiff of panic in the air of the Edinburgh student flat where I'm having dinner. "Everybody's feeling it," says Suzy. Feeling what? "The pressure. There's just so much pressure."

"Everything. I shouldn't even be here. I didn't even want to go to university but everyone said I should. And the work! It's just... there's so much of it! I feel like I wouldn't even have a chance if it wasn't for modafinil."

Guardian, 15 May 2015

Drugs seized at schools from hundreds of pupils - police


Hundreds of schoolchildren, among them a pupil of only eight, have been caught with drugs on school premises, new figures reveal. Class-A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine were among the illegal substances seized, according to the data from police in England and Wales.

There were more than 2,000 incidents dating back to 2011, suggest figures. Teachers described the statistics as a "worry" and the "tip of the iceberg".

BBC News, 23 April 2015

The Great Debate: Alcohol vs Marijuana

the debate about whether alcohol or cannabis is more harmful continues

Drinking alcohol is not fatal unless people consume too much alcohol. The CDC reports that nearly 88,000 alcohol-related deaths occur each year, and binge drinking accounted for about half the deaths.

By comparison, the number of deaths caused by marijuana is almost zero. A study found that a fatal dose of TCH, the potent chemical in marijuana, would be between 238 and 1,113 joints in a day to overdose on marijuana., 2015

I threw out my drug-taking son


Matthew Smith was heavily into drugs. He was dodging school and creating havoc at home. One day he went too far and his mother threw him out.

"By day I was the mummy of a sweet little girl, baking cakes with her, reading her stories," she says. Once Lydia was in bed. "I'd start worrying about Matthew, my teenager. Often I wouldn't have seen him all day but I knew exactly what he was up to. He was taking drugs.

Guardian, 1 June 2013

Parents Understanding Drugs