Learning to make healthy life choices It's Youth Work Week, so we are showcasing the hard work that our fantastic youth workers are doing in supporting young people and the impact that this work has had on young people's lives. Leon was referred to Janet, our Targeted Youth Worker because the school had concerns around Leon’s cannabis use and his mum has had a history of addiction to prescription pain killers. At the first session Janet explained the services; both aspects working with young people who are using substances and also the CABS (Children affected By Substances) aspect. Janet asked how Leon would like the sessions to run including whether he wanted the CABS and substance misuse sessions kept separate or combined. Leon said he wanted them to be combined. The confidentiality procedure was explained, which Leon was familiar with as he has previously had counselling by the school counsellor which he found very beneficial. Leon said: My mum was addicted to painkillers, but she only stopped using them about six months ago. I noticed when she stopped taking them that her mood changed, and she seemed to be a lot happier. She reminded me of the mum I had before she became addicted. Even being at home has improved a lot, which I didn’t think would happen. I started smoking about weed about two years ago now as part of the social scene I’m in and to be honest I find it hard to stop. It’s what you do when you’re with your friends isn’t it. You drink or you get high. When Janet asked me what I’d wish for if I had a magic wand, I admitted that I’d like to be able to stop but it’s really hard when I see my mates all the time. Janet said: Over the course of several sessions we discussed the dangers of Leon smoking cannabis. He has very good knowledge around the dangers and is familiar with the Talk to Frank website, but I had a real worry that his old habits would be hard to break. I talked to Leon about the importance of looking at “safe” websites such as Talk to Frank and explained that lots of the information on the web is not accurate, and this can be dangerous. I also signposted Leon to the Mix website and we talked about ways of reducing the harm he is doing to himself by using less paper, not smoking on his own and not holding the smoke in his lungs for an extended period of time. Leon said: When Janet spoke to me and asked me why I wanted to stop, I thought she didn’t understand that I wasn’t sure I could, but now I know she was trying to help me see what life is like without smoking weed. I told Janet that my dream is to be a champion water skier, stay fit and save money for water ski equipment as I really enjoy this and it’s something I’m actually good at. I also wanted to improve my mental health as I’ve seen what being free from addiction has done for my mum. I’m proud of her and I want to be proud of myself and achieve in life. We agreed that every time I want to go and smoke with my friends that I would remind myself of my water-skiing goals. I also explained to Janet that one of my mates sells cannabis and he has asked me a few times now if I wanted to deal as well. Janet made me play this board game called Dealer or No Dealer where I was the dealer and I lost the game. I got the message and I also learned that I could get into trouble for carrying 2/3 £10 bags of cannabis. This blew my mind as I’ve done this loads in the past! Janet said: Throughout the following session Leon had a brief relapse and his cannabis use went up as he spent time smoking with friends again. So we sat down and talked about what had triggered this relapse and as a result I suggested he download the Breaking Free Online App, which will send a warning when he goes into a particular area on his phone. Leon agreed to this and said he would start hanging out with his non-smoking friends and his girlfriend who also doesn’t smoke cannabis. Leon says: So, I’m really chuffed with myself as I haven’t smoked weed for three weeks now and I feel really different. I was saying to Janet the other day that I feel a lot better. My skin has improved, and my chest feels doesn’t feel tight all the time. This used to really worry me so I’m really glad that’s gone. I’m also not in my head so much as I was, and I don’t feel so paranoid. I also haven’t had a panic attack for a while. It feels good, like I’ve accomplished something and I’m really proud of myself. I hope my mum is proud of me too. Janet and Leon discussed the cycle of change and where Leon fits into this and used positive praise to recognise and enforce how far he has come. Janet also signposted Leon to the Staying Free Online app to help him continue not to smoke. Leon told Janet that things at home with mum are a much improved and he is taking on less of the caring responsibilities, but he declined the Young Carers service; if anything changes Leon will let the Janet know. Outcomes achieved: Reduce Substance Misuse, Reduce the Impact of Substance Use, Building Resilience. Support offered by Targeted Youth Services: Service provided by Bristol Drugs Project: Help young people like Leon reach their potential: Please select a donation amount (required) £12 Could give a young carer an evening of fun activities, taking a break from their caring responsibilities £25 Could provide an hour’s specialist support for a young person struggling with their mental health £35 Could cover the cost of food for five sessions for young asylum seekers and refugees Other Set up a regular payment Donate How can we help?