Drugs & Human Rights - The God Of The Era

Posted at 10:23am on 1st August 2008
Click for related post: Parent Power = Kids' Confidence

I wonder how this generation of policy-makers will go down in history? Human Rights, it seems, is the god of the era. It certainly takes precedence over any sort of morality. And common sense? Well that's out of the window.

I refer to the statistics showing that Britain now has an estimated 1% of the population taking illegal drugs, and somewhere in the region of 300,000 children growing up in homes where one or both parents is an addict, in a trade estimated to be worth more than £5.3billion. A report in The Daily Telegraph, by Neil McKeganey, Professsor of Drug Misuse Research at the University of Glasgow, concludes that, "For too long we have couched our nation's drug habit within a moral vacuum, in which the decision to use or not use illegal drugs is seen to be a matter for the individual." Too right, we have.

It is now thirty years since my daughter started experimenting with soft drugs at school. I didn't recognise the signs, back then, but I knew something was wrong. Wrong enough for me to seek help on her behalf. Without exception, I was made to feel by successive establishment figures that my 'interference' in her stated aims - to leave school, to befriend drop-outs and felons and to live with her boyfriend - impinged upon her Rights. The child psychologist cited my faith and church attendance - alluding to my indubitable 'repressed sexuality' - as the motive behind my desire to curb the 'needs' of my under-sixteen year old.

Even my daughter found that an affront. But she knew her Rights. Oh boy, did she know them. 'You can't keep me locked up,' she yelled, with all the candour of a rebellious adolescent. And so it proved. The police were under-resourced even then. Unable to keep returning my runaway to me, they caved in and persuaded me to allow her to live with a young woman some thirty miles from home, whilst I sought help from the Courts. Fat chance. Like the psychologist, the Official Solicitor also implied that my 'over-protective' nature was at fault, and strung the whole affair out until it was too late. Too late for me. Too late for my daughter, by this time involved with a criminal gang.

Little wonder that by the time she was eighteen, she was a fully-fledged heroin addict. Nevertheless, I never gave up on her. But it was clear that there was little of the 'treatment', of which Neil McKeganey writes, for my daughter. For the next seven years she fluctuated between a love affair with the needle, and a terrible fear of dying. Her first attempt at coming clean involved a dodgy doctor and methadone prescriptions. Having read, recently, on a website, of the plight of meth addicts, I'm glad that that means failed her. Next came a spell in a mental hospital where, she was told, she was 'lucky' to have a bed. A terrifying place for me when visiting her, it was also, evidently, too much for her to cope with, as she discharged herself within a fortnight. The following year, denied any further medical intervention or help, she tried cold turkey. That proved a hideous trauma for the entire family.

I could go on. Christian faith and tough love on my part, and sheer grit and determination on hers eventually freed her. For five short years only. During that time she lived a happy and fulfilled life. Until one morning she died a sudden death in suspicious circumstances.

If it were not for my trust in God, it would be easy to feel bitter. Certainly I feel that my daughter and I were failed by the various agencies from which we sought help. Right back at the beginning, I questioned how pot could be smuggled into a Convent boarding school. But then - hey - the authorities subsequently decided that cannabis should be down-graded. No, it's not bitterness I feel but sadness. Sadness that we've failed a whole generation of people. Sadness that we're on course to fail many more.

Most of all I feel saddened to be part of a society which has not only allowed a moral vacuum to develop, but has encouraged it. Once we could call ourselves a Christian country. Once Christian values were taught in our schools, where a daily act of worship took place. Once our laws were based on Christian ethic. What have we to replace it? Nothing but scepticism. And the very intolerance (about faith) that secular thinking was supposed to eradicate.

There are those who advocate the legalisation of drugs as a solution to the problems we face. I cannot condone this. To take that argument to its logical conclusion, are we to legalise any addictive / destructive habit that we find difficult to police? I think not. Besides, in my experience, over the thirteen years of my daughter's addiction, she was desperate to be clean. Not because her lifestyle was maintained by an illegal substance, but because she recognised that it was not a life worth living. More of a half-life, really, in which she hung, like a leaf blowing in the wind, with no sense of any of the normal human pleasures: no emotions, no affection, no taste, no nothing. Just an empty numbness. And a terrible fear of death.

Education has been cited by others as the best means of dealing with the problem. I agree that this is a crucial factor - though only one of several. That's why half the royalties from the novel I've written, titled 'A Painful Post Mortem, are going to a charity which has a project 'drug-proofing' UK teenagers. (The other half is destined for a charity dealing with 3rd World babies born HIV+). The book is inspired by my daughter's story and will, I hope, be an inspiration to parents, social workers and policy-makers. It is available here, on my books page, at amazon, or booklocker. Buy it, read it, and wonder: could this be me, my child, my loss.

If we do nothing, how many more children are going to be led down the golden garden path of Rights, only to find a Serpent at the other end? And how many more mothers, like me, will be left remembering the betrayal of a society which did nothing? And the death of a much-loved child?

Click for related post: Parent Power = Kids' Confidence

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