Kit to help parents spot drug abuse

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 June, 2009, 12:00am

A counselling centre is offering help to parents who fear their children going astray - a kit to help them spot early signs that they are abusing drugs.

The resource kits represent the city's first serious effort to educate parents about youth drug abuse.

Commissioner for Narcotics Sally Wong Pik-yee said families had become an important front in the battle against youth drug abuse, given that 60 per cent of teenagers were found taking drugs at home or at friends' homes.

University of Hong Kong associate professor of social work Sandra Tsang Kit-man, who developed the kits with the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals' CROSS Centre, said many parents were desperately seeking ways to handle the problem of drug abuse.

'Some of them have weak knowledge of the drug problem with their kids, while some others may not want to admit to the problem. They need to be equipped to face the worsening situation,' Dr Tsang said.

The centre counsels drug abusers, their families and the public, particularly young people, about drugs.

She said the resource kits had been developed based on the findings of a three-year survey of more than 5,000 parents.

The kits comprise three booklets - targeting, respectively, parents whose children show no drug-related behaviour, parents with children at risk and parents who are drug abusers themselves.

They feature different scenarios, tips about how to handle simple cases and group activities to teach parents more about drug abuse. They also encourage parents to communicate better with their children and inform them about where to seek help.

About 150 teachers, social workers and peer counsellors will be trained to use the kits from next month. Parents will be invited to join workshops and seminars over the summer.

Law Kam-man, 72, the father of a 15-year-old son who admitted taking ketamine two months ago, said he was heartbroken to learn of the drug abuse. 'He denied [taking drugs] at the beginning but it was obvious, with his loss of appetite, yellowish face and constantly running nose,' Mr Law said at the launch of the resource kits yesterday. 'He would not talk to me because he was afraid that I would keep asking him whether he was taking drugs.'

Mr Law eventually sought help from a social worker with the consent of his son, who is now in rehabilitation. 'Everybody makes mistakes. It is all right if you realise that and correct the mistakes. Your parents are always on your side,' he said.

Warning signs

Changes in behaviour

Always asking for money, even stealing it
Avoiding contact with family members
A tendency to stay away from home
Carrying strange pills, plastic straws or aluminium foil
Physical condition

Prone to fatigue

Loss of appetite
Pain when urinating
A bleeding or runny nose
Deteriorating memory