Talking is first step in battle against M-Cat
Getting teenagers to open up to their parents is no easy task. But in the battle against M-Cat – and indeed other drugs – it is often vital. As part of the Grimsby Telegraph and Young People’s Support Services’ anti-M-Cat campaign, Do You Know Enough? health professionals, volunteers and young people want to highlight the importance of talking – no matter how taboo the topic. Faye Preston reports.
YOUNGSTERS are being urged to get talking about taboo drug, mephedrone – AKA, M-Cat.
For two years the drug has been making its way onto the streets of North East Lincolnshire, resulting in a concerning increase in youngsters using – and abusing – the drug.
As reported, some young people who have taken M-Cat have been left feeling depressed, anxious and paranoid. Some have self-harmed and even attempted suicide.
Now drug intervention and health professionals want to highlight the importance of talking about the topic, not only to educate youngsters, but to reassure those who are having problems that there are places they can go to for help.
Team co-ordinator at North East Lincolnshire's Children and Adolescent Mental Health service, Richard Bryan, advises the first thing a parent should do if they suspect their child of taking drugs is to talk to them.
He said: "If parents notice extreme changes in their child's behaviour the first thing they should do is try to talk to them.
"Young people need to share how they are feeling with someone, even if it is other friends. They need to find out if how they are feeling is normal.
"It is so important to share thoughts with people who are there to support them and adults need to engage them in these discussions."
Earlier this week, the Grimsby Telegraph printed a heartbreaking letter written by a 15-year-old girl who was battling an "addiction" to M-Cat.
It took her a year to turn to her mother for help, by which time she was self-harming and had attempted suicide on more than one occasion.
She wrote: "All I ask of you is not to shout at me as it will make matters worse. Also don't tell me how I have done wrong because trust me, I know. All I need now is for you to tell me that everything is going to be OK.
"It has taken me a lot of guts to be able to say this because I am scared you are going to hate me and want nothing to do with me, which I understand if you don't."
Writing to her mum was the first step to the girl's recovery.
She was referred onto North East Substance Team where she and her mum have received unwavering support from professionals and now they are both doing a lot better.
The girl's letter tells a very real account of the fear she felt and how hard it was to tell her mother what she was going through – but highlights how things can improve once people start talking.
The Young Reporters – a group of 18-year-olds from Grimsby – believe talking to young people is vital in the battle against M-Cat.
Member, Abby White, 18, said: "The only way to get the message out there is by educating people, especially young people. They need to know what M-Cat is so that if someone offers it to them they recognise it and know what it may do to them.
"We need to be talking about it and making sure that people get the support they need and that it is readily available.
"They might be scared that if they talk to someone they will be seen as a 'druggy' or a bad person, instead of being seen as someone that needs help. They might be scared of getting into trouble.
"A lot of adults can be ignorant towards the issue and if the young person thinks they aren't going to care, the respect isn't there."
Others said more needs to be done to promote the services, such as North East Substance Team, who are there to help young people who are abusing drugs.
Sian Abbott, 18, said: "Those people who are taking M-Cat need to think about the long-term effects, not just the initial high. It is a worry to think that people around us may be taking it. They don't know what they are putting into their bodies.
"One problem is that they might not know where to go for help. Even if people don't need help now, it would be good to promote the services available. It is important that all young people know where to go.
"Parents might think it will never happen to their child, especially those from well-off backgrounds, but what we have seen from the campaign shows it can happen to anyone."
They also praised the 15-year-old girl who allowed the Grimsby Telegraph to publish her heartbreaking letter to her mum, in which she confessed she was "addicted" to M-Cat.
Ben Staff, 18, said: "Allowing the paper to use her letter like that was a good thing. It was shocking and she is very brave to put it out there."