16 August 2011, by Phillip Hodson
Following the death of Amy Winehouse, you need to be ready with answers to drug-related questions to prevent a ‘boring’ and ‘ridiculous’ descent into addiction.
As you gaze at your adoring three-year-old, or take your teenager to school, remember they have an appointment with several illegal substances in the years ahead. It’s only a question of when somebody offers them a dodgy wrap, not whether. As scout founder Baden Powell said: be prepared.
Although drug usage has fallen slightly among the young, the hardcore abusers are becoming more addicted. I do not recommend having to visit your grown-up child when they say out of the blue: “Dad, I’m on heroin and I don’t know how to come off it.”
In addition, drug dealers are nearly as vicious as banks when it comes to extracting their pound of flesh. So teaching today’s facts of life means knowing that street drugs are a universal problem.
What works, when trying to reduce the risk to your child? Giving them honest and correct information when they are 10 or 11.
What doesn’t work? Thinking that Amy Winehouse was any kind of a role model and informed user.
For instance, Amy chose to think alcohol was not a drug when it fact it is one of the worst and it killed her. Great that she stopped smoking crack. She could perhaps have even stopped smoking cigarettes with the help of hypnotherapy, Madness that she slugged vodka as if it were tea.
A doctor once described to me the effect of alcohol on the liver as “like putting acid on blancmange”. Drink hard enough till you’re 50 and you’ll get a hole in the head where your brains used to be. In fact, X-rays will show two holes, one for each hemisphere.
Meanwhile, in a bacchanal of misinformation, our adult world promotes booze as bottled joy.
My advice? Don’t buy society’s line that alcohol (mass killer) is worse than ecstasy (not mass killer) or your children won’t give you the time of day.
However, if you only tell children that drugs are horrible you do equal disserve, because they realise that this fails to explain why anyone would want to take them in the first place.
So you have to own up: many drugs are nice to start with, like that first glass of Stolichnaya. The only problem is, there are no free highs.
The effect of supplying your brain with druggy endorphins is to curb nature’s own production, so when the artificial street drug or drink is unavailable or unaffordable your system operates without any natural opiates. That’s like inhabiting the body of a 99-year-old with arthritis, except it hurts more.
Another term for this is ‘withdrawal’.
You should also stress that some drugs are only lethal because criminals not doctors are suppliers – and you need a private income to run the lifestyle.
Eventually, the world will have to accept that prohibition is a lousy distribution system.
But in the meantime, here’s the clincher. Because there is little pleasure for big risk, drug culture is ultimately ridiculous. The best message to get across to your youngster is how comprehensively boring the life of any serious addict is – even if she’s called Amy.