Pubdate: Tue, 20 May 2003
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 2003
Author: Frank Urquhart
Bookmark: (Heroin)


THE fishing port of Fraserburgh - the so called "smack capital of Scotland" 
- - has been chosen for a pioneering scheme aimed at protecting the welfare 
of the young children of heroin addicts.

Twenty families in the town, where either one or both parents are addicts 
and where the children are of pre-school age, are to be recruited to take 
part in a two-year research study to assess a range of innovative 
interventions to help families blighted by the scourge of substance abuse.

In a controversial move, the parents taking part in the project will not 
need to give a commitment to kick their heroin habits to qualify for help.

The Fraserburgh Families Project, which will be run by Aberdeenshire 
Council and the children's charity, Children First, is being funded by the 
Lloyds TSB Foundation Scotland and the Scottish Executive.

It will operate from October of this year until December, 2005, and will be 
evaluated by researchers from the school of applied social studies at 
Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University .

Dr John Love, a lecturer at the university, will be heading the evaluation 
research team.

He said yesterday it was hoped that lessons learned from the study could be 
used to help the children of families of drug-addicted parents throughout 

"Substance misuse affects not just the individual but their family too," he 

"Particular concern has been expressed about the welfare of children in 
such households, who may be exposed to neglect, harm and ill-health as a 
consequence of growing up in impoverished environments.

"Obviously, in a child's life, the pre-school years are terribly important 
in terms of development, and if we can intervene at an early stage then the 
possibility of positively helping the children is thereby enhanced.

"These are people who may not use existing services and where perhaps 
conventional ways of working might not be suitable. The criteria about 
coming off drugs, for example, won't apply."

Dr Love said: "There are always multiple difficulties associated with drug 
misuse - relationship difficulties, health difficulties and sometimes 
housing difficulties - and we are going to try and take that bigger picture 
on board and take a holistic approach to the problem."

He added: "It would be advantageous, obviously, for the parents themselves 
to come off the drugs, but in some cases that is not going to be realistic, 
at least for a long time. And there is so much damage that can be done in 
the intervening period.

"These parents still love their kids. It's just that they've got a big 
problem. And if we can keep the children within the household then that is 
a big advantage."
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