Late one night, Elizabeth Burton Phillips heard a knock on her door. To her dismay, the police officer she welcomed into her home informed her that her young son, Nick, had committed suicide as a result of a heroin addiction. It is a story that is repeated all too often throughout England and the rest of the UK. However, it is a story Elizabeth hopes to bring an end to.

As a means of expressing her grief and raising awareness among other parents, Elizabeth wrote a book entitled Mum, Can You Loan Me Twenty Quid? The book has since been adapted as a stage play that will be presented in Portsmouth next month. The free play will be open for two performances at the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth on May 6, followed by a single performance at the Central Library in Guildhall Square.

Portsmouth City Council is encouraging anyone who wants to learn more about drug addiction and its impact on families to attend one of the performances. It is an opportunity to experience the real-life story of a mother who lost one of twin sons to the ravages of drugs.

Addiction a Family Issue

One of the themes Elizabeth hopes people take away from the play is the realisation that addiction is a family issue. Her two sons, once model boys who seemed to be doing just fine, began their lives as future addicts by smoking cannabis. And as we all know, cannabis is often a gateway drug to harder substances like cocaine and heroin. Unfortunately, many parents miss the signs of cannabis use in their own kids.

Once a child is regularly using illicit drugs, that child’s behaviour begins to negatively affect the entire family. Grades began to suffer, kids and parents have trouble getting along, rebellion and disagreement become more common, and, in some cases, kids begin stealing from mother and father in order to support their drug habits. This is a tragic situation that usually ends negatively.

As a parent, there are a couple of significant signs you can look for that suggest your child might be dealing with a drug issue:

  • a sudden change in friendships, usually for the worse
  • increased secrecy about daily and weekly activities
  • unexplained mood swings
  • unexplained weight loss or gain
  • sudden and frequent insomnia
  • frequent agitation, irritation and anger
  • sudden and noticeable change in financial position
  • lack of interest in personal appearance
  • loss of interest in schoolwork, hobbies, etc.

The signs are not necessarily conclusive evidence that your child is dealing with drug issues, but if you notice more than a couple of them, then these are certainly reason to be suspicious. As a parent, do not ever be afraid to approach your child with drug related concerns. Remember, you are the parent. It is your responsibility to deal with these issues before they get out of hand.

Help Is Available

Perhaps you already know your child is dealing with alcohol or drug problems. We want you to know that there is help available through many different channels. From residential treatment programmes to professional counselling to NHS services – there is no reason your child needs to continue living this way. There is also no need for your family to continue to suffer at the hands of drug abuse and addiction. Please, for the sake of your child and your family, reach out to those offering to help.

For the most serious problems, we recommend parents seek out a private rehab clinic. A private clinic is the best suited to handle severe addictions because these have the resources and personnel necessary to address the problem correctly.

If you are anywhere in the general vicinity of Portsmouth, make a point of attending one of the three performances of Mum, Can You Loan Me Twenty Quid? It will be well worth your effort.

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