In August 2015, Young Wales held a workshop on substance misuse. This was the first in the early stages of consultation work with Welsh Government on this topic. The workshop was kindly hosted by the Caerphilly Youth Forum.
During the workshop the young people had an opportunity to focus on different areas of substance misuse, such as the health implications, different scenarios where a family member may being misusing substances, and services and support that are available.
It was clear that there was a good understanding of the reasons against taking substances. Looking at health implications, the young people were aware of the risks, such as heart palpitations and liver damage and the effect on mental health, including depression, paranoia and longer term conditions such as schizophrenia or Alzheimers.
Having the right information is important and knowing where to go for that information needs to be widely advertised. Most of the group had heard of the Frank website, www.talktofrank.com
. Here in Wales there is ‘Dan 24/7’ and www.dan247.org.uk
These websites give links to relevant information and services for people who are seeking support.
Working in small groups, the young people took a ‘problem’ and wrote down a ‘solution’ or suggested what could be done. For example, with peer pressure, move away or avoid old friends who would pressurise; and help build people’s confidence to be able to say no.
Some time was also spent on looking at a ‘Minimum Unit Price’ (MUP) for alcohol. When asked for a definite ‘We should have an MUP’ the group were undecided. At first, they thought it would be a good thing, but there were also some real concerns that in low income households where alcohol is an issue then it would still be prioritised and less would be spent on food and utilities. While feeling positive about a MUP, the group were worried about the effects on children in these families.