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Many people believe that a drug addict has chosen this life himself, but it is not that simple. There is usually a reason behind these problems. 

 Image: Dreamstime (with licence)

Thus, there is a need to give focus on how to help individuals with excessive substance use, and to reach out to children and young people at risk at an earlier stage.

This is something of what Kjell Torstein Hagen tells in a very nice video that has been posted on the Facebook page From within. In the video, Kjell tells his story, about the background for his own drug problems - and about his way out of the problems. 


There's a story behind any drug addict

We hear in the video that Kjell, together with two sisters, grew up with a violent stepfather. This led to very turbulent conditions at home, and to him falling out of school. It also led to a life on the streets in Oslo as a drug addict. 

But all this is a thing of the past. In 2010, Kjell got out of drug abuse and into ordinary working life. Kjell says:

I hope that people can open their eyes, and realize that there is a story behind every drug addict. Many people believe that a drug addict has chosen it himself. There is a grain of truth in that claim, but at the same time it is not so simple. There is usually a reason for you to get addicted on drugs. 

He adds:

These people abuses drugs due to mental problems. It is not the case that they has mental problems due to their abuse of drugs.  


Need for individually tailored help

Furthermore, Kjell says that aftercare should be more on the user's premises, and that there is a need for a more individual treatment.

For many, it is difficult to stop using the drugs. Many have been intoxicated since the age of 13-14 and do not know of any other life. Many people struggle with low self-esteem, mental health problems, and have lost faith in most things. 

He says that he himself did not believe that he would ever get into ordinary working life. Yet that was exactly what happened. 

I got the right support, says Kjell. 

To build self-esteem

Among other things, the positive significance it had for drug addicts to be able to become sellers of the street magazine =Oslo is emphasized. He was one of the first to take part in this project. Kjell says: 

It became a new everyday life for drug addicts in Oslo. Instead of sitting with the begging cup, we instantly got better self-esteem by standing up and having a job, to sell magazines. 

He also says that this made it easier to get in touch with other people, and that they more often stopped and had a chat. 

If you did not always buy the magazine, it is still about being seen as a person.


- Parents, wake up!

Kjell has an important message for parents, and he says that he hopes that they can wake up and follow-up their child. Not least, he emphasizes the importance of following-up the youth. 

And that parents should not think that alcohol is okay, at least not until you are 18. Alcohol has nothing to do with 15-16-year-olds. Alcohol is also the gateway to most drugs.


Need to get in earlier

He calls for a greater focus on the prevention of substance abuse problems.

I would like information to be given to children and young people at an early age. You are welcome to start in 6th to 7th grade (i.e., 12-13 years of age). In eight grade (i.e., 14 years of age), it may already be too late. 

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