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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Drug family mother backs campaign
By Tanya Gupta
BBC News

Theresa Dodd
Mrs Dodd said young people needed to 'dare to be boring'
A woman who has spent 12 years helping three daughters fight heroin dependency said when she first discovered their addictions she thought they would die.

Theresa Dodd said she only found people could get off drugs at all when she went, in desperation, to a school talk.

Now the Kent mother-of-four is supporting a Surrey Police campaign to take anti-drugs messages to pupils.

"I thought all heroin addicts died," she said. "I didn't know I needed to get an education. I'd had nothing."

Mrs Dodd's eldest daughter Antonia, 34, educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Woldingham, Surrey, has been off heroin now for five years.

Two other daughters, Angelika, 25, and Thomasina, 32, are still fighting their addictions, which she said began when they first started drinking secretly as teenagers before they moved on to illegal substances.

Her youngest, Seraphina, 23, never took drugs at all, she said.

Have the courage to be the boring one
Theresa Dodd

Mrs Dodds, from Tunbridge Wells, a former nurse married to a lawyer, gave her daughters private education and a middle class upbringing in the Home Counties, but still saw them slip into drugs dependency.

Four years ago, she made media appeals to her girls to give up the drugs, after Angelika had been in court for theft and had ended up begging and sleeping rough.

Now she goes into schools to warn teenagers about the situations they may face.

"It is about curiosity and daringness," she said.

"But I think people have to be even more daring, and dare to be boring, and not do the things their friends are doing."

Surrey Police are running drugs bus tours throughout the county this month as part of a Drugs Destroy Communities campaign, which aims to raise awareness of drugs misuse, the issues around it, and the help that is available to users.

Mrs Dodd, a devout Catholic who believes her daughters' addictions could have stemmed from their family background, naivety, rebelliousness, or even questions of faith, said she thought such an education campaign could have helped them.

The Dodd daughters
Blighted by heroin: The Dodd daughters as children

Now, in her school visits, she tells teenagers: "Have the courage to be the boring one.

"If you feel happy, why would you need to do something to feel different?

"If you alter your mind and need a sense of disorientation, are you prepared to take the risk of it being permanent?"

She added that girls could face a particularly high risk to their safety, with drug use leading to a higher threat of being sexually attacked.

And she said the only one of her daughters to have escaped drug addiction had been the one who made a point of joining a group that helped vulnerable people to have hobbies.

"Young people need to feel useful, important, and attractive," she said.

"Making commitments to join after-school activity groups, dance classes, music classes - these things can make a difference."


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