Pioneering event will discuss a new approach to drugs at Waterlooville Community Centre as campaigning mum says: ‘addiction is very misunderstood, stigmatized, and made worse by criminal records’

A PUBLIC talk on how to protect our community from the impact of drugs is set to be ‘the first of its kind’ in Waterlooville.

Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 4:55 am

Mum Hilary Mills, whose son Ben died at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose, is sharing her story to encourage others to get involved in the discussion.

She is welcoming all to a free talk called ‘Hampshire: Take Drugs Seriously’, which will be hosted at the Waterlooville Community Centre on Maurepas Way on January 28 from 3pm.

At this talk, speakers will consider whether banning drugs can cause more harm than good.

Hilary Mills with a picture of her son, Ben Mills. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Hilary said: ‘It is the first event of this kind in the Waterlooville area.’

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The mum is a member of Anyone’s Child: Families for Safer Drug Control, a network of families who are campaigning to change current drug laws.

Hilary said: ‘Many young people will experiment with drugs whether legal or not, at present with all drugs illegal they are in the hands of criminals that don’t care about safety or the harm they cause.

Ben Mills

‘I feel that we need to take back some of this control, making education mandatory in schools with trained people and resources put in.

‘I feel regulating certain drugs will lower the harm that is caused by the criminal activity involved in obtaining them and other substances they are mixed with.

‘Users are often the victims not the criminals, and at present are criminalised for possession which will limit their choices later in life, this will often lead them into a life of crime.

‘My son lived in supported living but was so ashamed and felt so bad about himself he used in their toilet, even around other users.

‘He collapsed, got revived by CPR, but after three weeks he died from brain damage.

‘I don’t feel he deserved this, to die in a toilet, and sadly this isn't a unique event - over 4,000 have lost their lives from drug overdoses.’

Speakers will discuss what a new approach to drugs could mean for the area.

MP for Meon Valley Flick Drummond will be hosting the event, which will include speakers Neil Woods, a former undercover police officer, Janine Milburn from Don't Go with the Flo, and Adam Holland, a public health doctor.

Hilary added: ‘Addiction is very misunderstood, stigmatized, and made worse by criminal records.

‘The reality is drugs are here to stay, young people will experiment but don't deserve to die or be caused unnecessary harm.

‘If something is risky such as adrenaline sport, driving, horse riding, we don’t ban it, we make it as safe as possible and reduce risks, which clearly isn’t happening at present.

‘Our current drug legalisation is 50 years old and hasn't changed, deaths and harm rise every year, in fact it gets more and more dangerous.

‘I feel it’s time to take another approach, and debate: do we want criminals in charge or do we take back some of the control they currently have?’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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