Pubdate: Mon, 03 Dec 2001
Source: Sudbury Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 The Sudbury Star
Author: Trevor Wilhelm
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Teenagers Beat Substance Abuse While At School

When Nick started itching for a drink after spending New Year's Day with his
head in a toilet, he had an epiphany.

"I didn't want to die," said Nick, 22, who wished to remain anonymous.

"I was at the end of a three-month binge. I passed out on New Year's Eve. I
remember falling asleep and thinking I wasn't going to wake up."

When he awoke the next day with a crippling hangover, he was surprised. His
heart was skipping beats from the frightening concoction of booze and pills
he'd taken.

"I preferred hard liquor, tranquilizers, pain killers, Gravol, Ritalin and
Tylenol 3 with codeine," said Nick.

He spent New Year's Day throwing up.

"I had just stopped vomiting and I still wanted to drink," said Nick. "That
was when I realized I didn't want to die. That was at the ripe old age of

Erica Neuman was even younger when her moment came. At 18, she could write
her own absent notes at high school and had managed to cut her parents off
from what was left of her school life. She'd been absent a lot of days and a
teacher called her in to talk about it.

"I was stoned when I was in there talking to her," said Neuman. "I just woke
up and thought, 'What am I doing? I want to be a teacher and I'm not going
to graduate.'"

Neuman goes to school every day now, but things are a little different.
Since Oct. 5, she's been enrolled in the Building On Our Strengths Together
(BOOST) program run out of Lockerby Composite School.

"I didn't feel like waking up and smoking eight grams of weed before walking
to school any more," said Neuman. "I needed it just to get started."

BOOST, a program helping kids and teens kick substance abuse, is able to
operate inside Lockerby because it's one of the few abstinence-based
programs in the country.

"Other programs are harm reduction," said BOOST's Gord Payne, who also works
for Pinegate Addiction Services. "With us, you come in on this date, you
leave on that date and you haven't used."

BOOST, a voluntary program, achieves this by subjecting students to a
20-week regimen of academics, communication, feelings and anger management
workshops, and an element of physical nutrition and exercise.

BOOST is staffed by addiction workers from Pinegate Addiction Services, who
created BOOST, teaching specialists and social workers. Each specializes in
a different aspect of BOOST's program.
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