Monday, 6 August 2007

Harrowing Tale

I watched a documentary on BBC 2 last night, which was filmed entirely on the personal video camera of the main protagonist. The man in question was a television presenter in the US in the 1990s. He had a successful career, lovely supportive wife and two adorable children. Yet he was hooked on drugs.

For years, he kept a video diary of his life - over 3,000 hours of footage - which told a harrowing story of his battle to give up drugs.

Here was a man who knew that he was jeopardising his showbiz career, acknowledged that the drugs would most likely kill him and understood the damage they were doing to him and his family. He was a tormented man - he knew exactly what he was doing, but he just couldn't seem to help himself. He went through more than one course of rehabilitation, and managed to stay clean for long periods of time. But then something overcame him, and he was back on drugs.

Ironically, he was introduced to cocaine by the local police, who he shadowed as part of his job as a crime reporter.

It wasn't until he lost his career and his wife divorced him that he eventually managed to get off drugs - and is still clean. He now speaks to young people about his experiences, and warns them of the damage that drugs can do to their lives.

I find tales like this so disturbing. It is an awful thing to say, but it is easier to accept why people from disadvantaged backgrounds turn to drugs. Poverty is so often at the route of our social ills. So, if we can tackle poverty, then drugs will go away. Unfortunately it's not that easy. There are so many complex reasons why people get caught in a cycle of substance abuse. If we are really to tackle such a complex problem, we seriously need to consider if we are doing nearly enough. Tackling poverty, increasing access to rehabilitation, improving drug education, and improving support facilities to help people stay clean in their communities after rehab are all important. But what more can we do? If some one with so many advantages in life can become hooked on a substance that can so easily destroy it, then what other issues do we have to consider?

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