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Viewpoints comment Gary Shenton

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: July 09, 2014

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Back in the 90s I was involved with a charity called Cheadle Against Drugs (CAD).

It was set up with the co-operation of the local police to tackle the issue of drug taking.

As drugs are linked with a big percentage of crime, the police were happy to support us.

Our remit was to educate the public about the dangers of taking banned drugs, such as ecstasy and cocaine.

We gave talks to local community groups before spreading the 'gospel' to local industry, by holding well-attended seminar at Alton Towers.

Thanks to generous sponsorship from JCB, we also produced a video warning of the dangers of taking drugs, which was distributed to schools throughout Britain.

I'd like to think that we had some success before we eventually disbanded after a few years.

However, some 20 years on the issue of drugs, and particularly drug-taking by young people, remains a major problem for society.

The medical profession's policy of prescribing drugs like sweets to young children with behavioural problems, rather than pursuing an alternative therapy, surely isn't helping matters, with the danger that they could become addicted to drugs in their hunger for a 'normal' life in their advancing years.

A million prescriptions for behaviour-altering Ritalin are written every year for children as young as three for conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

An estimated 400,000 children now take the drug.

Experts fear parents of over-excitable children are often looking for a "quick fix" rather than addressing the underlying causes.

Prescriptions for Ritalin, an amphetamine-like stimulant which has the same effect as 'speed' and cocaine, have soared from 92,000 to 929,000 since 1997.

Of these an estimated 90 per cent of items have been dispensed to children.

More needs to be done to address the issue of behavioural and mental health problems affecting young people.

We are fortunate to have a charity on our doorstep called Younger Mind, which offers emotional support to youngsters aged up to 18.

Emotional difficulties can be caused by a number of things, such as family arguments, bullying, worrying about school and/or exams, feeling depressed or sad, and so on..

Younger Mind offers time to talk confidentially about problems, to discover solutions and to develop people's potential.

The charity has a deep belief that each young person has gifts, abilities and potential.

It helps by offering creative opportunities for children and young people to express themselves through playing games, art, drawing, making things, playing music, poetry and other helpful activities.

Counselling staff are all qualified to at least Diploma level in Counselling and many have MA or MSc level qualifications, as well as a range of previous professional backgrounds. Anyone can refer a young person to Younger Minds, providing the young person has consented for the referral to be made. There are other charities too, of course, like Rethink in Leek, which do outstanding work helping young people with emotional problems.

We can't afford to be without their services.

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