Pubdate: Wed, 28 May 2003
Source: Flamborough Post (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003, Flamborough Post
Author: Gord Manzer
Bookmark: (Treatment)


When young people use or abuse drugs, those wishing to seek help may not 
know where to turn.

Alternatives for Youth could be the answer to their problem.

The AY program uses licensed social workers and councillors to help young 
people through the process of coming clean.

AY Executive Director Catherine McPherson-Doe said that in Ontario, 
marijuana is the highest abused substance, followed by alcohol, a trend 
also shown in Flamborough.

Locally, many parents work out of town, leading to long commute times. The 
end result is many youths are left unsupervised.

To help, an AY councillor visits Waterdown District High School weekly to 
provide guidance to students. Any student found carrying, using or under 
the influence of drugs or alcohol is required to see the AY councillor at 
least once. "It's our chance to engage the students," said McPherson-Doe, 
noting that only 20 per cent of offending youths seek help.

There are rational reasons for students not to seek help, including 
possible legal repercussions. "Also, there is an increasing tolerance for 
alcohol and cannabis. Parents aren't as concerned with their child using 
cannabis or alcohol," McPherson-Doe said.

Some don't seek help for fear of embarrassing their family.

"(Youths) don't see (substance abuse) as a problem. It works for them," 
McPherson-Doe said.

But in almost all cases, there is a deeper reason for doing drugs.

"Nobody does drugs for the sake of doing drugs," she said.

AY tries to address those underlying issues. Troubles at home, academic 
stress and peer pressure are all root causes. Instead of primarily helping 
a youth avoid substance abuse, the program guides them through the problems 
causing the intake.

Many young people also want to avoid involving their parents. While AY 
respects that and offers confidentiality, they advise the youth to talk to 
their families.

"Whether your parents are good or bad, they are your best means of 
support," she said.

And AY also helps parents. They can meet with councillors confidentially to 
discuss concerns about their child using drugs or ask for ways to prevent 
their child from using drugs.

AY hosts a Parents Resource Group to discuss drug-related issues. Parents 
do not need to have children involved with AY to join the group, which 
helps them learn about specific drugs and the warning signs to look for in 
their own children.

McPherson-Doe said that parents should follow a few easy steps to ensure 
their children stay drug-free.

"Know where your kids are and what they are doing," she said. "Kids that 
are able to communicate with their parents are less at risk of abusing drugs."

AY can be contacted at 905-527-4469 and is housed in the former town hall, 
163 Dundas St. E.
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