Category Archives: Media
The Home Office have been piloting a blog asking for comments on the new Drug Strategy.
David Oliver has asked for comments on drug education and I have posted my own response which has now actually been published on it. The link is here http://drugstrategyblog.homeoffice.gov.uk/?p=5 or you can read my comments below…..
Stacey Smith said
March 15 2011 10.20
I have been involved in delivering both drug education and treatment to young people over the last eleven years. The main points I wish to share are as follows:
Without a statutory framework I see it as an injustice to our young people that they aren’t given consistent approaches to something that could affect their lives so adversely. This is more difficult when the messages we receive generally in society are also so inconsistent and confusing. E.g Take this pill to change how you’re feeling but not that one, these drugs are bad and they’re illegal, some of these drugs are worse but they are legal. I’ve seen teachers giving completely biased and inaccurate information which discredits any actual messages that are delivered thereafter.
Drug education needs to be delivered and linked tightly with emotional literacy and lifeskills as within the SEAL approach. If young people are better supported with their emotional health then this decreases the risk factors associated with drugs including alcohol.
Willingness and competency
Whilst some teachers are very competent, the majority either do not want to deliver what they feel to be a difficult taboo subject or they have limited time and training opportunities to do so. We wouldn’t put an untrained Maths teacher in front of a class so why are we allowing teachers to deliver a subject they know nothing about?
As well as for mainstream pupils but in particularly for those considered ’disaffected’ or ’vulnerable’ the information given by a teacher is not going to be absorbed (if they are there!) It is not going to be real to them.
I also believe there is a lot more value in informal drug education within youth settings and giving parents more access to attend sessions about drugs including alcohol.
Lack of targetted information
The generic FRANK campaign is not targetting the most vulnerable young people. Telling a 16 year old that Cannabis makes you sick when he has been smoking it since he was 12 isn’t helpful. There is great literature being produced out there (Lifeline, HIT) but often the agencies I work with would not have the funding to be able to purchase them.
A combination of teacher training, outside speakers, parents and most importantly a statutory framework for ALL schools would help.
Let’s give our future generations a better chance to succeed by crediting them with honest information and support.
I felt the need to get a few things of my chest having just viewed the following video of our great leader David Cameron.
Please note in some ways I have been a fence sitter regarding the pros and cons of legalising Cannabis. I try and see both sides of the argument. However, his comments today in response to the questions he was asked are dimissive and make me very angry.
Point 1) Alcohol and Tobacco are more addictive. FACT. Alcohol damages the body far more and has far far far less medicinal benefit. Tobacco (Nicotine) is more addictive. FACT. You’re not answering the question Mr Cameron! Yes I believe Cannabis can lead to a psychological dependency for some people but if you are legally allowing people to make a choice to use Tobacco and Alcohol then why not Cannabis too? If you are so concerned about people’s physical and mental health why not ban them all?? We all know the answer to that.
Point 2) Hoorah, he agrees education in schools is vital. So provide us with a statutory framework compulsory in ALL schools, train teachers to give out credible information, fund programmes and services (coughs) that can deliver the goods. Redivert FRANK money so that those that are the most vulnerable get the information and support they need rather than basic, ill targetted and sometimes factually incorrect propaganda.
Point 3) IF
‘Marijuana’ is incredibly damaging and leads to HUGE mental health problems’
then it is BECAUSE of the fact it’s illegal and not properly regulated or controlled. It is in the hands of criminals. If higher THC levels in Cannabis contribute to an increased risk to mental health then if he really wanted to help people he would find a way to regulate. He allows Alcohol to continue to be legal which actually does contribute to HUGE mental health problems so on this basis, make Alcohol a Class B too!
Point 4) Dismissing a question about the medical use of Cannabis is quite bloody offensive. It had been proven countless times that it is much more beneficial and less addictive than drugs that the pharmaceutical companies he would advocate and probably has a vested interest in dish out. Thousands of people in our country are in pain and suffering and his policies criminalise them for wanting to be able to legally choose a drug that could help them a great deal to lead more fulfilling lives. It’ s not all just about stoners wanting to get high!
Point 5) Making drugs legal will make them more prevalent? Really?You know that? If policies to date have not worked why not try something different? Why not listen to the people that know what they are talking about? How about pulling your head out of your arse and seeing how dangerous and harmful your policies are? How about realising you have the power to really reduce the harm that ALL drugs can cause but politically you nor many politicians have the balls to make the radical changes that are so badly needed?
And so on and on and on and on.
Rant over. . .for now.
So today’s Telegraph has helpfully provided some free advertising for a company that is selling drug tests which could be accessed by parents quite cheaply. I’ll hypocritically link to the article now…
Great! Let’s think of an scenario …
Parent suspects teen of using drugs. Firstly if a teen is unwilling to admit to (illegal) drug use then I should imagine they would be quite resisitant to a drug test anyway. Secondly if they manage to convince teen to take the test and it is positive then what? Smack their arse? Kick them out? Support them??? Inflicting a drug test on them is hardly supportive. If the relationship is strong enough and open enough then surely the teen would feel able to discuss it if they were in a bad way? For some parents a positive result will send them into a panic but who is to say their use is even problematic? Some would say any illegal drug use is problematic but this is not the case. If a teen is using problematically, if their lifestyle is being affected by their level of use then surely trying to strengthen bonds would be more helpful than mistrust and maybe even making them feel humiliated.
Then there is the scenario that the test is negative. Parents will then hoorah but said teen will probably trundle off and get hammered on another harmful drug, Alcohol which is far less dangerous and scary….hmm…
If you suspect your teen is taking drugs get informed, keep some perspective, don’t panic. Talk to them, let them know that you wouldn’t be happy if they are partaking and what your concerns are but above all make sure they know if the sh*t hits the fan because of their choices you will be there for them. Too many teens are isolated from their families, left alone, vulnerable, unsupported and at risk. Drug tests will only serve to widen the gap between parents and their teens.
Peace, love, empathy,
I posted this in response and thought I should blog it too.
So what penalties would this ‘Senior’ MP suggest? Will it be a massive deterrent like our drug laws are to young people?!!!
Should we build extra prisons for horny teenagers? Fine parents whose kids are caught having sex? Or even better why not just parade them around the streets with ‘I’m an immoral dirty boy/girl’ branded on their foreheads.
Oh I can’t wait to vote Tory now. Can’t wait to get other similar minded people in charge of our country who are so young people focused. Bravo Mr Loughton.
Young people have and always will have the desire to have sex. Education is important but criminalising and setting up young people to fail for something that is natural is sick.
If I had a hat I wouldn’t be able to get it on.
No peace, love, or empathy for the Tories or Daily Mail today.
Shock horror! Two teenagers die from LEGAL drugs Mephedrone (and Alcohol).
Cue media hype. Ban it immediately! Noone ever uses drugs when they are illegal do they?? Our drug laws are such a deterrent anyway aren’t they? Oh please don’t give me a £60 fine, anything but that! Hmmmm.
Not being flippant about the deaths of two young men but in no report have they attributed it to Alcohol. Would they have died if they had taken just the Mephedrone alone?
Why do the Government and the media who jump on the droning bandwagon when these deaths occur not realise how ridiculous they sound?
By their logic any drugs that kill should be made illegal. Let’s just think about that. I haven’t got time to dig up the figures but thousands die every year from the legal drug Alcohol (and of course from smoking), from the misuse of prescription medications (pedalled by dealers, or the bigger dealers, pharmaceutical companies) but they don’t create a media frenzy and make calls to ban them.
In the last 6 months Mephedrone has been all over the media. I wonder if the use of it would not have escalated if they had just shut up. There’s always going to be a certain amount of people who will read the articles and see the TV reports that it is a stimulant with some similar effects to Speed and Ecstasy and think ‘that sounds like a good idea’. Stop hyping it up! I just got a call asking if I’d talk to a couple of our local radio stations about it. I declined, I don’t trust the media and I don’t think I would toe the party line in what I would say. I’ve said it here instead.
I’m off to deliver a drug awareness session to some 16-19 year old lads now. I wonder what their take on the story will be.
Peace, love, empathy