Pubdate: Fri, 27 Feb 2004
Source: Elmira Independent (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 Elmira Independent
Author: Gail Martin


This past week, parents of students at Elmira District Secondary School 
learned just how close the national drug problem is.

Some students were recently caught at a school dance with cocaine.

While this might come as a shock to some, it is something that, 
unfortunately, isn't too surprising to me.

Through my involvement with troubled youth in Waterloo, I know how easy it 
is for those who are struggling with all kinds of pain to turn to drugs.

Many start with marijuana, something they rationalize is no worse than 
alcohol. They've seen their parents drink, and figure marijuana is on the 
same level.

Alcohol, of course, is socially acceptable. Yet, it, too, carries many 
disastrous consequences for the alcoholic. In today's society, almost 
everyone indulges, yet we look down on those who become addicted. That is 
unfair, and unjust. Yet, that is the way it is.

Teenagers see the hypocrisy in their adult influences, who tell them not to 
turn to drugs for solace, and yet turn to alcohol for the same thing.

Why not try marijuana, which is relatively easy to get?

And, for many who turn to marijuana, the harder drugs are not too far behind.

This is not to say that anyone who uses marijuana will turn to cocaine. 
That would be like saying anyone who turns to alcohol would do the same.

What I am saying, however, is that many youth are troubled and struggling 
with a difficult and painful world, and we, as adults, are not doing enough 
to show them a better way.

I have talked to young people who grew up in homes where their dad beat 
their mother, or who have endured tragedies beyond what most of us could bear.

I can hardly blame them for turning to something to ease their pain - 
especially when there seems to be so little available to help them.

We usually like to think that those who are using drugs and alcohol to 
excess are "losers" or have brought it upon themselves. While it is true 
that the choice to first turn to drugs or alcohol is a choice made of free 
will, for those who become addicted, choice is often left behind.

I have experienced first-hand the tragedy and heartbreak of addiction; I 
know how heart-rending the experience can be.

For that reason, I would urge every parent out there to really strive to 
know your children. Be involved, and look for the warning signs that come 
with addiction.

Take the time to talk to them, to find out how life is treating them - and 
whether they need some help coping with life's challenges.

And, if your child is acting strangely, and there are no other good 
explanations for his or her behaviour, consider the fact that your child 
might be using drugs.

I urge you to not turn a blind eye, in hopes that the problem will go away, 
and I urge you to take every possible step to intervene before addiction 
takes hold. We like to think that the small towns of this world are exempt 
from this problem, but that is not reality.

Drugs are available, and the temptation for some to indulge is overwhelming.

While the majority of students at Elmira District Secondary School are not 
going to succumb to addiction, some will.

It's our job to be there for them when they do - and work hard to prevent 
the rest from getting there.
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