Friday, October 29, 2004

A Victim Who Shares My View

I love what this man says. He absolutely reflects the approach I used in my film, True Stories of Ecstasy & Ketamine -- and as you can see by reading this story, THIS IS AN APPROACH THAT WORKS! This article very accurately reflects the thoughts that were going through my mind as I made the film -- the same Spirit moved us both!

Aberdeen Evening Express

'Treat them like adults and they will respond'
By Paul Betts

I began giving talks on drugs awareness after the death of my daughter. It came about as a result of me being ignorant to drugs and having for the rest of my life the guilt complex that, had I learnt and spoken to her, could I have changed history?

I thought it only fair that other parents and children be given the opportunity. Every single person in society has a role to play and should be educated in relation to drug misuse and abuse.

We carry about with us the stereotypical image of a smelly, spotty drug user, stealing to feed their habit. But it is wrong to think that.You cannot pick a drug user. You can generally identify someone who has been using drugs for a period of time because of the symptoms. But you cannot describe a drug user.

My daughter was well educated, good looking, clean-living and loved. She was at college and wanted to be a teacher. Why would I consider she would take drugs? She did not fit into my stereotype of a drug user.

Speak to any parent and unless they live within a drug-using society you always think the best of your kids. So you never speak to your kids about drugs. Ignorance is bliss. And you think if your kid is not involved, there is no reason to find out about it. That attitude breeds more misuse and abuse, because if your kids ask questions, you cannot answer.

So then they will turn to a friend, and the problem with a friend is they are only half educated. They may well only ever have been told how wonderful drugs are by someone who is trying to sell them some.

When I talk to people it is not a case of saying if you take drugs this will happen to you. All drugs attack the body, but they affect different people in different ways. Instead, when I give my talks, I can only pass on information. It is up to the individual whether they accept it.I never tell anybody not to take drugs. I hopefully give them enough facts that they themselves will want to say "no", or if they are dabbling they will find out more.

The title of my talk is 'The Choice Is Yours'. The talk on average is about two hours, and the feedback is that it goes very quickly. I used to be a teacher and I always remember learning should be fun, so I try to bring humour into it.

Over the last nine years, since Leah died, I have been into more than 3,500 schools, speaking to more than 2.75 million pupils and one million parents. It has been proven that, where I have been, drug misuse has actually fallen - so it does work.

It is not 100% effective because there is not one simple answer. If there was we would have found it.

The young people say to me I talk with them instead of down to them, and I take that as a compliment. I try to think if I was their age, what would work for me, and I try to inter-relate. I do not tell them not to do drugs. I tell them about the dangers. You have to look at both sides and only the individual can decide whether it is worth the risk. You use reasoning. When you treat them like an adult, they respond.

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