One thing that I am certain of after nearly 20 years working as an addiction therapist is that current drug policies in the UK are simply not working. As a society we have chosen to deal with the problem of drug addiction mainly by banning harmful substances and pursuing users and suppliers through the courts.
For years I allowed myself to believe material things were the key to happiness, love, admiration and friendships. I wanted people to respect me, believe in me and see me as the confident and vivacious woman that I truly didn't believe I was. Credit cards were like gifts from heaven as they hit the floor by the letterbox and the more I had in my purse, the better I would feel.
Recent research shows that our phones are proven to be affecting the way we talk, think, have sex, eat and even go to the loo. We have become slaves to technology, only this time, our hands are handcuffed to our phones. Those red circular icons on our home screens have become our very own version of a newborn baby crying out for attention.
Kids are bored. Drinking is cheap. Cheaper than anything else on offer around them leisure-wise by far. And it's sad. Because it wouldn't cost the earth. If kids want to knock about a coffee shop of an evening in London then they can. Because they are open past six o'clock. Why can't we do that for our young people in the North East?
Escaping pain never works. You can try, but there will always be a time when you are left alone in the abyss of your thoughts and the pain will re-surface. Drugs, sex, alcohol.. they are perfect engines for your own escape, but eventually they will become your consistent means of running away from what is actually hurting you.
You know the situation well. You sit down with some close friends, enjoying a good conversation for a few minutes. Then someone checks their phone. You see another friend pick up hers, then another friend follows suit and, in a moment, they are all silent; transfixed by the screens in front of them.
I'm sorry that when the DOCS ladies dropped us off at Grandma's, you weren't allowed to stay because you were too much for her to cope with. I can't imagine how awful it must have been to watch your sisters get smaller and smaller in the distance as you were driven away in a car you didn't recognise.