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Community / ‘I lost so many years of my life to drugs’: new educational video highlights danger of substance use

Fiona Spowart (left) and her daughter Kaitlin outside Mareel on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

A YOUNG local woman has spoken about her heroin addiction and how she managed to free herself from the drug with the help of her family and the local substance misuse team.

Eighteen year old Kaitlin Riise, and her mother Fiona Spowart, both from Tingwall, feature in a powerful and at times harrowing educational video that was launched on Wednesday during at short event at Mareel in Lerwick.

In the video, Kaitlin describes how she used drugs for the first time at the age of 13, and how her usage quickly spiralled out of control to the point that she was using heroin on a daily basis.

She spoke of peer pressure, a lack of self confidence at a very difficult age and falling in with the wrong crowd.

“You never think it will happen to you,” Kaitlin said, “I lost so many years of my life to drugs.”

With the help of her family and the local substance misuse service Kaitlin started her recovery journey more than two years ago, is no longer using drugs and has also come off any medication.

When approached by local police constable Andrew MacKenzie, who had just managed to secure funding to produce an educational resource on the danger of substance use, Kaitlin and her mum were quickly on board.

Spowart said right from the start of her daughter’s recovery journey Kaitlin had said she wanted to help prevent other people going down the same route.

Initially they were considering speaking anonymously but quickly came to the conclusion that going public would be far more powerful.

“Kaitlin felt the message wouldn’t be the same if she did it anonymously, and by doing it publicly it would hopefully make people realise that it can happen to anybody,” Spowart said.

“As soon as Kaitlin said she would do it publicly, I said I would do the same. (…) It’s nerve wracking but if it helps just one person, then that’s all that matters.”

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Both were commented for their bravery of going public in such a small community.

“Talking is also part of the recovery process, it helps speaking about it,” Kaitlin said.

She has now done her school exams and is holding down to jobs to save some money so that she can go travelling.

PC Mackenzie said he always felt the force could do more to educate young people about the dangers of substance use.

“Since joining the police my eyes have been opened to the lifestyle that some people live, and I wanted to share that in an educational format with other people to show them how bad it can get and not to go down that path.”

Police Scotland and the Shetland substance misuse team are keen to share the video and accompanying material with as many people as possible. They will visit local schools, colleges and youth clubs, and the plan is to also use the material nationally.

Once available online, Shetland News will share the video with our readers.

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