Mitch Winehouse Warns Parents Over Legal Highs

Mitch Winehouse Warns Parents Over Legal Highs

Amy Winehouse's father has issued a warning over legal highs, saying so many new drugs are available to children it is "no wonder parents are in the dark".

Mitch Winehouse also said the under-funding of drug and alcohol education meant a generation of children were being put at risk.

He was speaking as he prepared to launch a new education programme for schools with the help of comedian Russell Brand.

His daughter died in July 2011 from accidental alcohol poisoning at the age of 27 after a long and well-documented battle with drink and drugs.

Mr Winehouse said: "Everyone wants their kids to make informed choices when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

"But it's such a complicated subject to understand, especially when you look at all the new legal highs that have appeared over the past few years, that it's no wonder that parents feel in the dark about what to do."

The United Nations' drug watchdog warned this month that a new legal high enters the market every week, with the number of websites selling these so-called designer drugs now at 600.

Britain is at the heart of the trade in these drugs, with an increasing number of deaths, mainly among teenagers, linked to their use.

Earlier this month a 15-year-old from Essex was admitted to hospital after smoking a legal high packaged as plant fertiliser.

Mr Winehouse added: "Drugs education in schools is woefully under-funded and has been far too inconsistent.

"That's if it happens at all. When it does, it doesn't look at why people turn to drugs or drink.

"It doesn't happen with any kind of regularity. And it doesn't help teachers and parents to support the kids who really need it. That really needs to change."

The Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience Programme will initially be rolled out to 50 secondary schools across England, and will provide a free, confidential phone and online service for young people, supported by ChildLine.

Brand, who has battled drug problems in the past, is due to attend the launch of the schools programme at Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in central London on Tuesday.

The charity Addaction, which helped to develop the scheme, said it had seen an almost 25% rise in the number of young people seeking help for drug and alcohol problems in the last five years.

Simon Antrobus, chief executive of Addaction, said: "Every day at Addaction, we see people who've turned to drugs or drink to help deal with a personal problem. That's why this new programme is so important. It doesn't just say no - it also looks at why."

The Amy Winehouse Foundation has highlighted a poll by ComRes of more than 4,000 adults which found four in five parents with children at school felt drug and alcohol abuse among young people was a serious problem in the UK.

Only a third believed schools provided adequate education to children and young people around drugs and alcohol.