CHRISTIAN COMMENT: Learning about drugs

IT was sad to see Mitch Winehouse and Vicky Urwin on Breakfast TV this morning.

Not that they are sad people – on the contrary, I was struck by how positively they could view their joint heart-ache – but the reason for their being there, both have had to suffer the loss of a daughter to drugs.

They spoke eloquently and with passion about the need for more drug education for the young.

Apparently, at present, schools are only required to give one hour a year to the subject.

As bereaved parents, their view is that there should be much more information given – preferably by those able to communicate with street-wise youngsters.

Then, if young people want to try out various drugs, they can do so with full knowledge.

The intention is admirable.

Mr Winehouse in particular gave some powerful evidence of how it might be delivered.

He described how he’d actually met a charismatic and informed presenter – one who spoke the ‘lingo’ and who was clearly able to appeal to kids’ hearts as well as their minds.

Which raises two points.

Unfortunately, as with other “topics to be included in the National Curriculum” – and I’m thinking here especially of sex education – it is often the delivery of the information that causes problems.

So, do you call in an experienced drug user who can’t communicate very well?

Or a fluent speaker less familiar with what’s actually going on? One who is wise in what they say but maybe too ‘parenty’?

Or one who’s totally with the kids but gives “too much information” – whatever level that is?

To find a perfect balance, as Mr Winehouse did, might prove difficult to do.

The key point, though, is to do with the heart.

“Above all, guard your heart, for the condition of your heart will affect every single thing you engage in.” (That comes from, A dad’s advice to his son, found in the Bible. It is usually called Proverbs.)

There are many secondary reasons why people take drugs in the early stages.

Mainly they come from need – the need to feel significant or the need to feel accepted. Or both.

But the primary reason is that people – especially young people – don’t feel secure.

They don’t feel that they matter. They don’t feel loved and affirmed.

Quite often, a teacher will influence a youngster not because he or she knows the stuff (which a good teacher must do) but because they are known to care passionately about the well-being and success in life of their pupils.

Just read some of the online tributes to Mr Rimmington, the teacher killed in the coach crash.

If we are going to drug-proof young people, the key thing must be to let them know how valuable they are – just for themselves.

If someone loves them unconditionally, it strengthens their hearts.

It enables them to know they matter.

It lets them know that – however badly they mess up, and we all do – they are OK.

Precisely why God sent Jesus.

Column by Nigel O’Dwyer