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  • Sheldon Press

I Wish I'd Known: Young People, Drugs and Decisions: A Guide for Parents and Carers

Fiona Spargo-Mabbs

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Addiction & therapy, Coping with drug & alcohol abuse, Teenagers: advice for parents

In January 2014 sixteen year-old Daniel Spargo-Mabbs - a popular, big-hearted prom king - took a fatal overdose of MDMA. Her determination to make sure that other parents are better prepared to protect their children from harm has driven every word in Fiona Spargo-Mabbs' compelling, life-changing and life-saving book about teenagers and drugs.


When Dan died, I realised many things.

I realised drugs were closer to our door than I'd thought.
I realised drugs have become normalised for young people.
I realised drugs are more affordable, accessible and available than ever before.
And I realised I didn't know enough, and nor did Dan, to navigate the choices and come back alive.

When Daniel Spargo-Mabbs was 16, he went to a party and never came home. The party was an illegal rave and Daniel - bright, popular, big-hearted prom king Dan - died from a fatally strong overdose of MDMA.

In the seven years since, the range of substances has become wider, the levels of exposure higher, and the threat to young people's physical and mental health from drugs greater than ever before. Despite this, there is almost no guidance for parents to help their children navigate this perilous landscape and to stay safe.

To come home at night.

To grow up.

This book is everything Fiona Spargo-Mabbs wishes she'd known, everything she wishes she'd done, before she lost her son. Because however you parent, and whatever you do, at some point your child is likely to be in a situation where they have to make a decision about drugs. What if that decision is 'yes'? Do they know what the risks are? Do they have strategies they can bring to bear if things go wrong?

I Wish I'd Known interweaves the story of one family's terrible loss with calm, measured and practical advice for parents. It explores the risks posed by illegal drugs, and explains the way the adolescent brain makes decisions. There is practical advice for saying safe, information on reducing harm, and 'talking points' for parents and their children to do, talk about, look at, look up or consider.

A life lost to drugs is a loss like no other. Throughout the book, Daniel's story - his life, his death and what happened afterwards - not only provides a compelling reminder of the importance of those conversations, but also serves as an unforgettable eulogy to a son, brother, boyfriend and friend whose legacy continues to touch, and perhaps even save, the lives of other young people.

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Praise for I Wish I'd Known: Young People, Drugs and Decisions: A Guide for Parents and Carers

  • This is such an important book[...] Fiona has used her devastatingly sad experience with Daniel to help all of us and this book should be essential reading for parents of teenagers. - Gabby Logan

  • Incredibly powerful and also very practical. Fiona wants to make sure no mum or dad ever has to go through what she went through. This book is a must-read. - Victoria Derbyshire

  • Incredibly powerful. I can't imagine what it must have been like to write [this book]. But in amongst the heart-breaking story, the information, advice and evidence is meticulously researched, and navigates every parent's worst nightmare without scaremongering. Every parent should read this: it's not a frightening message, it's empowering, and a message of hope. - Dr Suzi Gage, psychologist, podcaster and author of 'Say Why to Drugs'

  • Written with determination, humility and sadness - any parent or carer will be better informed and wiser after reading it. - Professor Dame Carol Black

  • Fiona's story is heart-breaking, but her honesty and generosity in telling it will undoubtedly prevent other parents from finding themselves in a similar situation. This book is an absolute must for any parent wanting to have a meaningful conversation with their children about drugs. - Alicia Drummond, MBACP Accred., Founder, Teen Tips

  • This book is unique and will transform many of the lives of its readers. - Professor Janusz Jankowski

  • Dan's beautiful, intelligent, witty, big-hearted character is the golden thread in I Wish I'd Known. There are excellent practical, achievable ideas for parents and professionals; there are also personal testimonies and insights into the legal and medical systems that make for essential reading for anyone concerned about young people's drug use. [From] living through the most painful experience a parent can face, I know I Wish I'd Known will grow many good things from a very bad thing. - Emma Crawshaw, CEO, Crew2000

  • Beautifully written... a personal journey through the loss of a son, the book [also] provides a valuable resource of factual detail about drugs and alcohol. A must for parents, those working with young people, and young people themselves. - Betsy Thom, Professor of Health Policy, Middlesex University

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