Pubdate: Wed, 12 Nov 2003
Source: Stettler Independent (CN AB)
Copyright: 2003 Stettler Independent
Author: Leah Simeniuk


Students along the Highway 12 corridor got a first hand account of the
dangers associated with drug abuse.

Students from grades 7 - 12 and parent groups gathered throughout the
last week to hear Mike Ryan, a former drug abuser and now an
addictions councillor and public speaker with Clean Scene.

Ryan was brought to schools like William E. Hay and other schools
along the Highway 12 corridor by the Highway 12 Drug Task Force.

"I screwed up my life really bad, really early," Ryan told the students.

Ryan outlined his life from around the age of 13 to present. How peer
pressure from older hockey teammates resulted in a serious accident
that had Ryan bed ridden for over six weeks.

"I was a 180 lb athlete and after the accident I was a 100 lb drug
addict. I loved the morphine. I couldn't feel anything with it."

Ryan continued in what he called a "downward spiral of bad choices"
and ended up trafficking drugs for the majority of the 1970s . Now
almost 51, Ryan has been sober for 15 years, nine months and 16 days.

"I have the ability to accomplish so much but I could do a whole lot
more if I hadn't damaged my brain with drugs starting at such an early

Ryan was brought in by the Highway 12 Drug Task Force due to what they
perceived as an increased usage of marijuana and other "herbal" drugs
within the schools along the corridor.

"The numbers we were receiving from the RCMP and the schools seemed to
indicate usage of marijuana is up within our schools.

"We don't know whether that is because of the perception that students
feel marijuana is 'herbal' and therefore safe or because of
decriminalization of the drug making it seem okay to do," said Lance
Penny, area supervisor for the Stettler AADAC office.

Penny said one of the task force's mandates is drug prevention within
the corridor. By having similar talks last year regarding crystal
meth, the task force prevented an outbreak in that drug's usage that
schools to the north in Camrose and south in Drumheller are currently

"We hoped to educate students that though herbal, marijuana is just as
harmful as any other drug."

Penny said Ryan's talk was good but may have been a bit to broad for
what the task force was initially aiming for but still feels the
message was got across to the youth.

"It is part of our programming to provide these talks for our youth."
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake