Shakaliah Bishell now knows how harmful drugs can be to the body.
The 8-year-old Waitara Central School student was among the school's seniors who spent yesterday morning listening to drugs education worker Pete Dwan, from the United Kingdom, share his personal experience and battle with drug and alcohol addiction in his youth.
This is Mr Dwan's first time in New Zealand and he was invited to speak to Taranaki pupils by Drug Free Aotearoa.
The students heard how boredom had driven Mr Dwan to dabble with alcohol when he was 13.So when a friend knocked on his door to invite him down to the pub for a beer and for a bit of a fight later, he accepted the invitation.
"I thought ‘whoa, that sounded wicked'," he said. "So next Friday when I was bored, I drank again and got into trouble."
He found himself entangled in drugs when he was 21 but his health started failing him at the age of 22 when his "liver stopped working.
"The doctor told me I was putting all this poison in my body," Mr Dwan said. "I said ‘I'm not putting any poison in my body. I was just drinking some beer and taking some drugs'."
Mr Dwan picked up Thai kickboxing in a bid to reclaim his health and was named the World Association of Kick Boxing British champion.
He said drug usage among youth in the UK was a huge problem.
"People go into apathy, saying nothing is going to change," he said. But change can happen through the next generation by equipping them with facts so they can make their own decision.
"A lot of false information has been given to children," he said. "The information is sold insidiously through music and fashion."
- Taranaki Daily News
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