This week I will return to the subject of drugs and the risks involved to those who chose to take illegal substances.
On Saturday 26th May 2018 at the Mutiny Festival in Cosham, Portsmouth, an 18 year old woman and a 20 year old man died after falling ill and collapsing. It is known that they had both taken illegal substances.
A further 15 people were taken ill who are suspected of taking illegal drugs too.
Following initial enquiries, police have arrested a male and female aged 21 years on suspicion of supplying drugs at the festival. Both have been released under investigation whilst other enquiries are being made.
We will have to wait and see what happens in this case, however, although it is right to investigate such incidents, there is the other side to consider too – prevention.
Sadly, drug dealers will always be present and they will tap into the various markets which exist in our communities – mainly young people. These dealers will exploit festival goers too, but many people who supply drugs are not always drug dealers who supply drugs regularly; they are people who have bought an excess amount of drugs to share with their friends at festivals, which is still a supply offence, but there is a difference.
When I read the media articles about the Mutiny Festival incident, in particular the father of the young man who died, it struck me that this tragic incident was unexpected for this family who did not know their son took or might take drugs.
Naturally, the father wanted to share his grief with the nation through the media in the hope that other families would not have to go through the awful experience that his family are going through.
Unfortunately, what is new to these families is all too familiar to those in the emergency services or deal with substance misuse.
At last year`s Boomtown Festival, a young woman suffered a similar fate when she was found dead in a tent the day after the festival finished.
On average, between 8 and 10 young people die through substance misuse at festivals. Granted, there are many thousand people who attend these and a large number will not use drugs, but the vast scale of these events, not just in the number of attendees, but also the area of ground they cover, it is impossible see everything that goes on and drugs are relatively easy to conceal.
A familiar story with many of the deaths is that the young people are educated and from good families. What this tells us is that the risk can be taken by anyone and you must not assume that your son or daughter will not become involved in substance misuse because you have brought them up well – temptation is always present and in certain environments, people will make bad decisions.
It is therefore important for parents to talk to their children about news stories such as the Mutiny Festival and discuss the risks. Be open with them and show that you are aware of these problems because young people have a tendency to think that their parents don`t know much about drugs and the risks.
As a parent, you don`t need to know about the types of drug or effects that they can cause. All you need is an awareness that they are harmful and kill people and this is the message to convey.
If we protect our young people in this way and help them make the right decisions, then not only will there be less families who go through the grief, but there will be less people to sell drugs too, which will reduce the number of dealers.
I would recommend looking at websites such as FRANK and share these with your children too.
Next week I will write about the exploitation of young people used to run drugs for organised drug networks and the on-going debate about whether they are criminals or victims.