Pubdate: Wed, 07 Apr 2004
Source: Lakeside Leader, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 The Lakeside Leader
Author: M. Partington-Richer


Where the buffalo roam on Lesser Slave Lake

"I'm not saying that crystal methamphetamine isn't a serious drug -- it's a
nasty drug. But I just don't want parents and adults to lose sight of the
fact that the majority of young people we're seeing have problems with
alcohol or cannabis, not crystal meth."

That comment last week from the AADAC (Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Commission) supervisor for the Slave Lake area. Mona Johnson says some
parents are "so concerned that their teens might be experimenting with
crystal meth that they seem to be forgetting or downplaying the role that
alcohol and cannabis could be playing in their kids' lives.

"It's not normal for a 14-year-old to be able to drink a flat of beer -- and
it's not normal for a young person to use cannabis daily. Those are still
large issues," when it comes to young people in Slave Lake and area.

Cocaine has played an important role in the community's drug scene for a
number of years -- whether it's being snorted, injected -- or more commonly
smoked (crack cocaine) by its users.

"What we're seeing now is more smoking -- crack cocaine -- but that's mostly
by an adult population. It has a definitely more intense effect on its
users" than other forms of the drug.

"But alcohol and cannabis are definitely more popular with young people. And
for the parents who are worried that their teens might be experimenting --
those kids are likely not even doing crystal meth."

And while it is true that crystal meth and all forms of cocaine are highly
addictive, Johnson says "not every single user will be addicted
immediately." In fact, there are certain risk factors that could lead teens
more easily to addiction, "and is often based on the individual in

Peer groups and the age of the person are definitely risk factors, she says,
as is drug or alcohol abuse in the family. Another risk factor is detachment
from school and community.

On the other hand, teens who are active in school, rise above peer pressure
and have encouragement or close relationship with their parents or another
adult are less likely to become habitual users of alcohol or drugs. 
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