Pubdate: Fri, 13 Nov 1998
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd


A HARROWING survival guide, aimed at helping parents to cope with drug
addicted children, has been published in Aberdeen, the city facing the
biggest increase in heroin abuse in Scotland.

The guide, written by parents in a drug support group in one of Aberdeen's
most deprived areas, paints a bleak picture of the consequences of heroin
addiction within the family.

There is no message of hope for the future for parents whose sons or
daughters are junkies, but reassurance that those trapped by the nightmare
of heroin addiction are not alone.

The survival guide, which includes a checklist of advice about coping with
the consequences of drug addiction, has been published by Aberdeen City
Council's social work department and has been written by parents in the
Northfield Support Group.

It is to be distributed to social work and health promotion offices,
libraries, doctor's surgeries and drug agency centres throughout Aberdeen.

Margaret Smith, the leader of the city council, yesterday described the
guide as a major achievement by a group of very determined and courageous
parents in the community.

She said: "It is important that people who are struggling to cope with
addiction in the family know that they are not alone. Others have gone
through this dreadful experience and survived it.

"The advice offered by the parents has been very hard won, and they hope
that their suggestions for coping can help others."

Ms Smith said that the parents had shown extraordinary courage in sharing
their experiences. "We tend to think of drug abuse primarily as a crime
related issue, and this booklet reminds us of the real cost of drugs - the
destruction of lives and hopes, and the personal anguish that results."

One of the parents, a widow whose son started taking heroin when he was 16,
states: "It's only a matter of time whether he ends up in young offenders
again, or dead. I have faced my husband's death and survived. I know I can
do it again if I have to.

"Don't let them drag you down with them. They come off drugs but most go
back on. They do it because they like it initially. Then they do it because
the body doesn't know what to do without it and reacts painfully. You can't
stop it, so accept and move on."

Peter Cassidy, the council's director of social work, said the 12-page
booklet was a small but important contribution towards the city's strategy
for dealing with the spiralling problem of drug abuse.

He said: "There is no sugar coating. These are frank statements of reality.
I think it is an invaluable piece of work which shows great courage and
great resourcefulness, and really is to be commended and supported in every

Aberdeen City Council's new drug strategy is expected to be revealed on Monday.

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