When Debbie Dodds lost her battle with drugs, her children’s lives were turned upside down.
Kacie, 11, and Ian, 8, were left devastated, confused and living with their grandparents.
But they are not alone. New figures obtained by the Tele show that 35 Tayside children under 16 lost a parent to drug abuse last year alone.
And the figures are on the rise, from 26 in 2014.
Today Debbie’s brave parents Davie and Loraine said something has to be done about the drug scourge that was taking the lives of too many people in Dundee.
“Something in the system is broken,” said Davie, 61, a taxi driver from Linlathen.
“Our own people in our own communities are causing enormous harm to each other by selling drugs to their neighbours. It has to stop.”
It’s three months since Debbie died, aged 36.
She was found in the garden of a property in Arklay Street, the victim of an addiction which began 20 years earlier.
Said Davie: “When Debbie died we lost our daughter and her children lost their mum.
“They are now living with us and we are working through the system to get kinship of them.
“At a time we were expecting to go into our retirement we are now bringing up Debbie’s children.
“We worry that we are getting older when we know we need to be here long enough to make sure Debbie’s children are grown up and safe.”
He said one of the hardest things was knowing what to tell Debbie’s children.
“Nobody is giving us any guidance or advice,” said Davie.
“Nobody is helping us to guide our grandchildren through this.
“We really don’t know how aware they are of what happened to their mum.
“We talk about her not being here but they haven’t yet asked us the hardest question — what happened to her?
“One day we know they will ask and at that time we will need to find a way to tell them the truth.”
Loraine, 55, says there are no groups in Dundee for people in the same position as themselves to get together to talk about what happened.
“That would help such a lot but that’s just not available.
“People who haven’t gone through this just can’t understand,” she said.
“We want people in positions of authority to open their eyes to what happens to families and particularly the children when a parent dies of drugs misuse.
“It’s a hard subject to tackle and it’s not particularly fashionable but it is the children and other family members who are left behind to try to pick up the pieces and move forward.
“Our grandchildren are too young yet to understand.
“They tell us they are fine when we ask them. But how do we really know what they are going through.
“People in our situation in Dundee need help and support and right now we don’t know where to go to get that.”
The figures show that 26 of the drug death victims in Tayside in 2015 had children, which resulted in a total of 56 individuals losing a parent.
More than half of those individuals were under 16.
Caroline Snowden, senior health intelligence analyst for NHS Tayside, said in her report into drugs deaths in Tayside that there had been recent progress made in dealing with children who were affected by parental drug misuse.
She said: “The Child Concern Pathway created in 2014 continues to be followed ensuring that services are notified of any child or young person affected by a drug death.
“Appropriate support is made available if not already in place.”
She added: “Local alcohol and drugs partnerships (ADPs) have commissioned services to support children and young people impacted by parental substance misuse.
“Children’s services are embedded in the recovery process with ADPs.”