Extra help needed to beat drugs

THE family of a young mother who died in a car crash, leaving a 16-week-old baby, have called for stronger help for teenagers on drugs. The family of Rachel Jackson, 25, from Ramsey Forty Foot, have said that help takes too long. Rachel confessed to her m

THE family of a young mother who died in a car crash, leaving a 16-week-old baby, have called for stronger help for teenagers on drugs.

The family of Rachel Jackson, 25, from Ramsey Forty Foot, have said that help takes too long. Rachel confessed to her mother that she was taking heroin, just before her 16th birthday. Ten years later, she was still battling the addiction.

It transpired that Rachel had been involved with other drugs in her early teens. She would never say who had supplied them to her.

Her mother, Liz Fairclough, 55, said: "She would never blame anyone else. She would say: 'It was my choice' this is me and I'm going to get out of it - and I believe she would have done."

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She said: "Heroin addicts can spend months waiting for a first appointment to get help. Then once they are on a drug programme, if they miss a couple of appointments, their prescription for the substitute, methadone, will be cancelled and they can wait three weeks for another appointment. What can they do in the meantime? They will take heroin again.

"You are desperate. You are in agony, there is a physical need for the substance and there is nowhere you can turn for help, if you want help, you have to go back through the system. Doctors don't prescribe methadone and you can't blame them because they have had a lot of problems through it.

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"Addiction is an illness not a crime. People don't take drugs because they want to, it's because they have to. There are many lobbies asking the Government to change the law so it can be treated like an illness so people don't have to turn to crime to get help. You can't do anything to help your child, it has to come from them, like conquering drink or anorexia.

"Ordinary people like us don't understand the drug world. It's a close-knit community and you don't have friends outside it. People don't tell who supplies the drugs, you just don't do it. It's fear."

Mrs Fairclough said there was now more help than a decade ago. "There are helplines for parents and carers - but the only thing they tell you is to take care of yourself. That is really no help. We have tried everything. We have even tried helplines in London. There aren't enough rehabilitation centres, there is a massive need for them rather than prisons. There are some in London which cost a fortune.

"We rang one in London run by a former addict and his father and they said they would love to help us but they were full and could only take people from the local area. Heroin is the hardest thing to conquer. In every town and almost every village, you can buy drugs."

Mrs Fairclough said the family was distraught that Rachel's addiction had been blamed for the car crash at an inquest into her death last week.

Rachel, who was not wearing a seat belt, had been negotiating a bend when her Peugeot 306 left the A1 northbound carriageway at Southoe. The car veered off the road and into some trees. She was taken to Hinchingbrooke Hospital where she died of her injuries on May 30.

She said: "This was an unexplained accident. We don't know what happened but the amount of methadone in her blood and the traces of opiate would not have affected her driving. She was very happy that day. She wanted to get home to her baby."

She added: "There was so much more to her. She was a wonderful mother to her son, Dominic. The baby was all she had ever wanted.

"She was a very neat and tidy person. Her flat was very small but it was beautifully kept. She did not fit the mould of a typical drug addict. She did not look like one and she did not behave like one. But she had been on drugs for so long that she needed to use them to feel normal."

Rachel was returning home to Ramsey after taking her partner, Paul, back to their flat in St Neots. Rachel and the baby were living at her mother's home during the week because Paul had to get up early to go to work.

Just after her death, Rachel was due to have gone to a retirement party for her mother, a teacher, to thank her colleagues for supporting Liz.

Mrs Fairclough said: "They knew all about Rachel's problems. People thought I wouldn't want the party after she died but I did. I wanted to say to them what Rachel would have said."

If you do need help, support or drugs advice contact:

Addaction Tel: 020 7251 5860 www.addaction.org.uk

Drug & Alcohol Services Huntingdon Community Unit, Primrose Lane, Huntingdon, PE29 1WG Tel: 01480 415231

DIAL druglink, Whitwell Chambers, Ferrars Road, Huntingdon, PE18 6DH Tel: 01480 413800

Frank Tel: 0800 77 66 00 www.talktofrank.com

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