Pubdate: Sat, 11 Dec 2004
Source: Southwest Booster, The (CN SN)
Copyright: Southwest Booster 2004
Author:  Scott Anderson
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Hallucinogens)
Bookmark: (Youth)


A Community Action Forum on Dec. 8 started the wheels in motion to help 
address a growing drug problem in Swift Current.

Over 150 people attended the meeting to start developing a pro active 
strategy and putting the issue in the public eye to help raise awareness of 
the problem in the community.

"How can we as a community keep our youth if we don't know youth need 
help," explained Cortney Werboweski, Family Advocacy Worker - Region 
Intersectoral Committee.

The meeting presented some shocking examples and information about drug use 
in Swift Current and Saskatchewan.

Const. Steve Climenhaga, who has been a member of the Swift Current RCMP 
detachment since 1998, said there is a real drug problem in the city.

"In the last six years we've seen a dramatic increase in use of drugs in 
this city," Climenhaga said.

He pointed to 16 per cent increase in drug related charges laid last year 
and the fact that the following drugs have all been found in Swift Current: 
marijuana, marijuana oil, cocaine, crack cocaine, magic mushrooms, hashish, 
morphine, LSD, acid and recently Crystal Meth.

Even the more harmful and addictive drugs like cocaine are readily available.

"There are people on the street that can get cocaine in five minutes if you 
asked for it," he said.

He said that the problem is throughout the community, with drug users both 
rich and poor, men and women, plus people of all ages after seeing arrests 
of 14 to 15 year olds all the way to 70 year olds.

"It's something we need to get a handle on."

A pair of surveys of students at the Comprehensive High School showed that 
drug use is impacting students. One survey was taken in 2001, while the 
second survey was conducted earlier this year.

Panel members spoke on four main concerns from the surveys. One question 
concerning the frequency of drug use showed 17 per cent of students use 
marijuana on a monthly basis.

A question on when students had their first taste of alcohol showed 58 per 
cent had their first drink before reaching high school.

Results of a survey question on students being exposed to drugs at parties 
had high frequency of students seeing drugs. In 2001 a full 471 of 760 
students said they were exposed to drugs at parties, and in 2004, 400 of 
680 students responded yes they had been exposed to drugs at a party. This 
means 60 per cent of high school student say they are exposed to drugs at 
parties hosted in our community.

SCCHS Vice Principal Rod Siemens said the school has noticed higher drug 
use by students. He reported the number of drug related suspensions at the 
school has increased this year. The school is also concerned that a number 
of these problems are occurring before the school day begins. The 
traditional trend for these problems had been over noon hours and on 
Friday's before the weekend.

Kevin Hanna from Addiction Services said he was concerned with the age of 
onset of alcohol use found in the survey.

"The younger the person starts to use alcohol or drugs, the more chance 
they have of developing a problem with them."

Werboweski said the organizing committee wanted to determine the main 
concerns at this meeting and then start developing working groups to tackle 
these issues in the new year.
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