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EDITIONS
Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Life with a junkie son aged 14
Andy and Sandra Ransom
Heroin addict Andy Ransom, 14, lives with his mother
As the government promises help for drug-torn families, BBC One's 4x4 Reports follows a week in the life of a schoolboy heroin addict on Teeside.

Andy Ransom, 14, is one of 2,400 British teenagers officially registered as being hooked on heroin. He got his first fix at a friend's house when he was just 12.

Twice expelled, Andy has spent most of the last year in his room - where dealers come and go - as the council tries to find him another school.

He is trying to give up heroin through a methadone programme for a third time.

"You can't get even one little wink of sleep and you're just agitated to death. You get big shooting pains in the groin, belly and back and you sweat loads," he said.

Tower blocks in Stockton
A bag of heroin costs 5 in Stockton
Andy's older brother was on heroin and his three cousins are addicts.

He lives with his mother, Sandra, who wanted 4x4 Reports' cameras to show the hell of living with her son's addiction.

As soon as Andy's methadone runs out, she said, he goes back onto heroin.

"He's followed me to work and threatened to put the windows in if I didn't give him money.

"He's probably going to end up doing burglaries and dealing drugs. He's going to prison."

Sandra is one of many single mothers in Stockton struggling to cope with a violent addict son.

Keeping addicts in a drug-ridden area like Stockton is like keeping an alcoholic in a brewery

Tina Williams, Panic
The unemployment blackspot has the highest number of injectors in the country and the fourth highest drug treatment rate.

Local treatment schemes, last month hailed by the home secretary as the solution to cleaning up Britain's drug problems, have sprung up in abundance.

But many of the service users feel the very act of keeping care in the community is worsening the problem.

Three years ago Tina Williams set up Panic - Parents and Users Against Narcotics In the Community - when she was trying to get her heroin addict son Cliff into a residential treatment centre.

Tina Williams
Tina Williams set up a drugs support group
At 21, Cliff had no veins left in his neck to inject. His methadone treatment was giving him nightmares and deep vein thrombosis.

"The government gives users three options: methadone, community treatment or jail," said Tina, one of three parents invited to give evidence to the House of Commons home affairs select committee on drugs.

She said: "For a lot of users methadone won't work, just as Prozac won't work for everyone who's depressed.

"Community treatment is about bureaucrats putting ticks in boxes. Keeping addicts in a drug-ridden area like Stockton is like keeping an alcoholic in a brewery."

Removing people from their home can make them vulnerable and disorientated

National Treatment Agency
Yet there is only one residential drug treatment centre for the under-20s in the country - Middlegate Lodge in Lincolnshire.

A National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse spokeswoman said: "Removing people from their home can make them vulnerable and disorientated.

"Intensive support in their own environment is more effective."

But Tina feels the agency is protecting a vested interest.

"There's a whole industry now that's been created around drug use.

Detox unit appeal

"The so-called experts have been paid to deal with people in the community so they want the cash to stay there."

Panic is trying to raise 500,000 for its own detox and rehabilitation unit with instant access on the North Yorkshire moors.

Tina said: "Community treatment will never work while our children are living round the corner from drug dealers.

"It's the worst thing in the world to watch a kid slowly kill himself, crying out for help that isn't there."


Your comments:

This is for Andy: I couldn't imagine trying the drug heroin. I lost one of my best friends because he would have rather shoot up then be my friend . It's a tragic drug. Stop while your still young. Enjoy life.
Hope Anderson, United States

There is no help for these poor people. I have tried to get my daughter off of heroin and I am loosing the battle.
Paula Bishop, Yeovil, Somerset

It doesn't matter what treatments you give an ex-junkie. As soon as they are put in a position where drugs are available they will go back to them. Maybe the best idea is to make everything legal.
Daniel Burn, USA

I have tried cannabis twice and my mates are addicted to it. They smoke it in 'bongs'. I am 14 and my mates are 12, 14 and 15.
Anonymous, South Yorkshire

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Navdip Dhariwal
"Whilst filming with Andy it became apparent how easily it could happen."
4x4 Reports: Wasted

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See also:

25 Jul 02 | Education
13 Jul 02 | Scotland
11 Jul 02 | Politics
24 Jun 02 | Scotland
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