Ray Lakeman is barely too conscious of the impact of unlawful medication.
His two sons Jacques and Torin died after they took ecstasy collectively 4 years in the past.
Now, the dad is advocating a extra open strategy to sort out the problem of unlawful drug use – an strategy that has seen Sheffield College students’ Union hit the headlines in latest days.
The union has been publishing recommendation on find out how to take unlawful medication safely.
“I feel it is acknowledging what is going on on and attempting to maintain college students protected. It is life like,” says Mr Lakeman.
“I do not condone drug-taking however I do know it occurs. Universities should be open and sincere.”
Mr Lakeman’s sons took ecstasy collectively after travelling to Manchester to look at a soccer match.
Torin was 19 and in his second yr at Aberystwyth College on the time. His brother was a yr older and dealing in London.
Mr Lakeman knew his eldest son had been dabbling in medication however believes Torin had solely tried medication after beginning college.
“If it occurred to Torin when he was so against medication prior to now it may possibly occur to anybody,” he says.
“I feel issues modified for him when he went to school. I feel it was only a manner of becoming in and coping.”
However ought to universities as a substitute be specializing in stopping college students taking medication within the first place?
The steering offered by Sheffield College students’ Union – similar to find out how to take protected dosages and the way a lot water to drink – comes from the Loop, an exterior organisation which runs initiatives to cut back the hurt brought on by medication.
The union’s welfare officer Katharine Swindells denies the strategy is normalising or selling drug use.
“Though medication misuse is in fact not condoned at Sheffield, we have now to be life like that some college students will experiment with medication,” she says.
“We’ve got a accountability to make sure that if a pupil does select to take medication they’re as knowledgeable as doable and know find out how to take all cheap precautions.”
A spokesman for the College of Sheffield echoed the union’s place.
Nevertheless, Nationwide Drug Prevention Alliance spokesman David Raynes says the union’s recommendation is “normalising drug taking”.
“It creates a local weather the place there’s an expectation that college students will use medication. And that’s dangerous as a result of we’ll then get to a local weather the place extra college students take medication slightly than much less,” he says.
He believes “social stress and peer stress” – like that which noticed a major decline in smoking at the start of the 21st Century – is required to discourage college students from taking unlawful substances.
Whereas many drug consciousness charities do provide recommendation to people who find themselves going to take medication they also emphasise the “safest thing to do is not take drugs at all”.
Round two in 5 college students use unlawful medication, a recent survey by the National Union of Students (NUS) suggests.
Probably the most broadly used drug is hashish, adopted by ecstasy or MDMA, nitrous oxide and cocaine.
Rob Midday, an officer on the NUS, mentioned a variety of help and knowledge must be offered to assist college students who use medication to make extra knowledgeable decisions.
Punitive measures not often helped doubtlessly susceptible college students from in search of assist and help “on the very time they want it,” he says.
Buckingham College has taken a unique strategy.
It aims to be the UK’s first drug-free campus and plans to ask college students to signal contracts promising to not take unlawful substances on its premises.
Two years in the past the college additionally started inviting police sniffer dogs on campus in a crack-down on medication.
However vice-chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon insists the coverage is targeted on the welfare of scholars slightly than being punitive.
“We aren’t seeking to throw anyone out with a drug drawback however to provide them assist to get off it.
“It is primarily based upon the truth that if you’re a part of a college the place medication taking is not the norm you’re a lot much less prone to take them.”
He says whereas he is not against offering college students with recommendation about find out how to take medication safely he felt there have been higher methods to sort out the problem.
“That strategy appears to be admitting there’s an issue however attempting to restrict the injury slightly than addressing the trigger.
“It must be coupled with an actual drive to say we actually don’t suppose drug-taking is critical.”
He admits the college is unlikely to “stamp medication out altogether” however hoped tackling the social acceptability would considerably cut back drug-use on campus.
However Ms Swindells says college students additionally should be made conscious of the dangers in the event that they do select to take medication.
“Offering recommendation does not promote drug use,” she says. “It retains individuals protected.”
Should you, or somebody you recognize, have been affected by drug or alcohol points, particulars of organisations which might be able to assist can be found on the BBC’s Action Line.