Karen Atkinson on ITV This Morning

Article by the Daily Mail: When Karen Atkinson fell into with the wrong crowd at the age of 11, her life took a chilling turn. What started with a few puffs of a cigarette eventually turned into a dangerous cocaine addiction. 

By 13 she’d dabbled in cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine and by 15 was an everyday user.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Karen on ITV's This Morning"]I lost touch with my school friends and became mainly interested in drugs, which was really sad,’ mum-of-one Karen, 30, from Billericay, told Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes on ITV’s This Morning. My other friends were doing what teenagers do, but drugs took over. The drug of choice at the time was coke and all other drugs - like cannabis and ecstasy - were for weekends. But cocaine became an everyday thing. It seemed normal to me,' she admitted. It was so expensive but it was being bought for me by the crowd I was in because they were older and earning money. And any money I had from birthdays or Christmases I would spend on drugs. I knew my parents were so naive, which made me feel guilty. I knew in their wildest dreams they didn’t know what was going on.[/quote]

[youtube width="100%" align="none"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V257SHngB4w[/youtube]

Karen’s mum Linda, who also appeared on the programme, explained ‘I didn’t see it coming. At 10 she was a lovely bubbly child who enjoyed sports and life and was always a pleasure to have around. I was very naive and I didn’t know anything about drugs.’

When Karen started becoming difficult and moody, Linda didn’t suspect drugs were involved.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by"]I thought it was just the teenage years – the stroppiness and going off to the room. I obviously wish I had been more knowledgeable. It didn’t twig until she was 15 when someone phoned me to let me know. I’ve never thought my children were angels, but I didn’t expect anything to this point.[/quote]

It was only when Karen confided in a family friend that Linda found out the truth.  Karen Atkinson was addicted to cocaine by the age of 15

‘It was a really traumatic time and obviously there was a lot of guilt,’ Linda recalled.

But even when her parents were trying to help her quit, Karen continued to take the class A drug: ‘They tried everything,’ she said of her parents’ efforts. ‘They’d lock me in my room, but I’d climb out the window.

It took the harshest of experiences for Karen to wake up to where her life was heading. ‘I ended up seeing people overdose, go to prison, and die. I realised it was not what I wanted.’

When all Karen's friends were doing their GCSE’s Karen was in rehab on day release. ‘I switched my whole group of friends and I was so grateful to my other friends who were still there for me,’ she said.

It’s been 11 years since Karen has been clean and she’s now trying to turn those years of addiction into a positive for other addicts, by helping parents spot the signs of drug abuse.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Karen Atkinson"]Mum and dad have always said that they wished they’d known more and could have helped more. It’s all well and good having the dangers of drugs being taught at school, but parents also need the knowledge and confidence and to talk about things. Prevention would have been better than a cure[/quote]

Karen has now produced a 40-minute DVD for parents and teenagers called Think About IT, which tackles smoking, drinking, drugs as well as sex.

Linda admitted, ‘I wish there had been more out there about drugs at the time. I didn’t have a clue.’

Karen's DVD is available on her website, www.realiteen.co.uk 

Read original article from the Daily Mail





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