Drug forum: One pill can start a downward spiral

Life changer: One small decision to take drugs because of peer pressure could change a life, a guest speaker at a drug forum said.
Nanjing Night Net

WHAT is a parent supposed to do when their child says “I’m going to pop pills at a party tonight and there is nothing you can do to stop me?”

How do parents stop their kids from taking drugs or convince them they are not infallible?

There were no answers from the 150-strong crowd that attended a recent youth drug forum at Sutherland, but there were many suggestions.

Parents sat next to teenagers hiding under their hoodies. Voices trembled as carers described feelings of hopelessness when it came to their charges and drugs. Others came with young children, hoping there would be information to combat peer pressure.

NRL referee Bill Harrigan said parents could not tell their kids simply not to take drugs, but needed to give them enough information so that they might stop and think before they did.

“You turn around and say “I can’t stop you but think about what I said and know what could happen to you”, Mr Harrigan told the crowd.

He described the devastation of dealing with his child taking drugs.

“You are devastated and thinking, “this can’t be happening to me”,” he said.

“But getting angry is not the way to go. You alienate them from you and that’s not what you want.”

Mr Harrigan was among a panel of five who spoke about the effects of drug-taking at the forum.

Former heroin addict Scott Specjal spoke about how, when growing up, he wanted to be a veterinarian. At his lowest ebb, he told the parents of a friend who had committed suicide that their son had racked up a massive drug bill before taking the money he said he would use to repay a dealer to buy drugs for himself.

“As a kid I didn’t know that this was going to happen. Never did I ever think I would ever get into that sort of trouble,” Mr Specjal said.

“You believe you are invincible [that] you can [stop taking drugs] whenever you want and then, bang, you’re gone.”

He likened drug dealers to paedophiles and said they sold drugs to kids at school to get them hooked.

“A friend’s brother drove a tractor off a cliff with a rope tied around his neck — that’s what drugs are,” he said.

One parent stood up during the forum and told the crowd that anyone who thought there was a school in Sutherland Shire without drugs was “naive”.

Detective Sergeant Jason Heyward, drug and alcohol worker Angela Matheson, Frog Crew youth worker Dave Standen and Cronulla Sharks’ player Chad Townsend were also on the panel. The forum was facilitated by radio and television host Glenn Wheeler, who said two hours was not long enough.

Forum host, Sutherland police Superintendent Dave Donohue, said he hoped to hold a larger forum in the near future.

Did you attend the forum? Tells us what you think, or offer your ideas on how to approach the issue.

Posted by at 24/04/2018
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