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Just have the chat
Addaction is urging parents to take time out to talk to
their teenagers about drugs, as Karen Tyrell explains
IT’S NATURAL TO WANT TO PROTECT YOUR CHILD.
But as kids grow into teens they want to take risks –
it’s part of the way they learn about the world. Telling
a teenager to ‘just say no’ isn’t helpful and is often
counterproductive. Our advice is start the chat, keep
talking, listen well, and don’t turn it into a big thing.
Many parents don’t feel confident about giving
advice about drugs to their teenagers, so our Have the
Chat campaign offers seven tips for parents to start
the conversation about drugs:
‘We know the “just say
no” message doesn’t
work – in fact it can have
the opposite effect.’
1. DON’T MAKE IT A BIG THING
Everyone will feel awkward if you treat it like a ‘big
talk’... including you. Try to think of it as the start of a
regular conversation. You want to show your kids it’s
OK to talk about drugs.
2. PICK THE RIGHT MOMENT
You’ll need a time and place when you both feel
comfortable. Side-by-side chats can help put everyone
at ease – try a car journey or a walk.
3. DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT
No one knows about every drug. But you’re the expert
on your own kids. Think about your own experience
and draw on that. Do some research too if you need to.
4. LISTEN WITHOUT LECTURING
We know the ‘just say no’ message doesn’t work – in
fact it can have the opposite effect. Your teenager
won’t want to talk if they feel judged or preached at.
5. BE PATIENT
Kids will need a bit of time and space to think about
what you discuss. This is normal and not something
to worry about. But make sure they know they can
come to you if things go wrong. No conversation is
out of bounds; you’re always there to help.
6. BE REALISTIC
There’s a good chance your teenager will come into
contact with cigarettes, drugs or alcohol at some
point. It’s important to be realistic, even if that feels
scary. If you start the conversation, be prepared to
hear answers you might not like.
7. DON’T GIVE UP
Be kind to yourself and remember that this isn’t a
pass/fail test. These things take time – even if the
conversation doesn’t go the way you want, an initial
chat can help sow a seed for the future.
Parents who want support can use Addaction’s free and
confidential web chat service, staffed by trained advisors.
A range of resources is at www.addaction.org.uk
Karen Tyrell is executive director of external affairs
A pAuse from chAos
Trevi House is launching a new programme to
help vulnerable women break the cycle of having
their children removed, says Hannah Shead
BETWEEN 2007 AND 2014, 11,000 mothers had
more than one child removed, placing a huge strain
on the care system. Through our new contract to
deliver the Pause programme in partnership with
Plymouth City Council, Trevi House will be able to
support women to break the devastating cycle of
having multiple children removed through care
Pause Plymouth will give up to 48 women the
opportunity to take a ‘pause’ from the periods of
chaos and anger that typically follow care
proceedings, creating instead a space for them to
reflect, learn and aspire. When the doors open in
April 2019, women will receive intensive bespoke
support that has not previously been available to
them, helping them to avoid or break this cycle.
This is vital work. Across the UK, care applications
are at their highest level since 2012, with a total of
72,670 children in care. Two-thirds of cases involve
parental substance misuse, while 25 per cent of
women who have had a child removed go onto have
another child, often leading to repeated removals.
14 | drinkanddrugsnews | November 2018
For the past 25 years Trevi House has worked
with hundreds of women and their children – at a
residential rehab and more recently through
outreach at our Sunflower Women’s Centre – getting
mum off drugs or alcohol for good and giving her
the skills to be the best parent she possibly can.
Many of the women that are admitted to Trevi
House have previously had numerous children
removed, and we know the subsequent trauma
caused if they become pregnant again before having
the opportunity to recover.
Pause complements our existing work and
provides the much-needed support for cases where
reunification is not achievable. It would be easy to
write these women off – but given the right support,
nurture and specialist interventions, change is
Hannah Shead is CEO of Trevi House
‘In April 2019, women
will receive intensive
bespoke support that has
not previously been
available to them...’