Pubdate: Fri, 01 Apr 2005
Source: Winkler Times (CN MB)
Copyright: 2005 Winkler Times
Author: Ellie Reimer
Bookmark: (Youth)


Winkler Times -- He's presented several Drug-proof your Kids workshops for 
Winkler parents over the past three years. And police constable Arnie 
Klassen says the message is getting out.

"I think people are more aware; there's less denial out there about the 
drug problem in Winkler," says Klassen. "People are realizing it is a 
problem even in Winkler."

The hardest question he gets when he's speaking on that topic, however, is 
not about specific substances or their side-effects.

"The hardest question to answer is: Are drugs a big problem in Winkler?" he 
said, in a follow-up interview after he participated in a drug awareness 
night at Garden Valley Collegiate. "For those involved, for the parents 
whose kids are involved with drugs, it's a big problem."

However, putting the numbers into perspective, Klassen says it's not time 
to panic about the size and scope of Winkler's drug problem. Having said 
that, he stressed that all the community's children are vulnerable.

"I want parents to know that no kid is immune to the temptation to try 
drugs," he said. "There's always the potential for kids to get involved 
with drugs."

After alcohol, marijuana is the drug of choice for local teen drug users.

"It's a soft drug," Klassen, said,"it's easily available and there is a 
message out there that marijuana use is not a serious issue." However, 
Klassen begs to differ.

"Marijuana has both short-term and long-term effects," he said. "Marijuana 
affects your ability to learn, it affects your memory, your co-ordination, 
your judgement, and it decreases your motivation to learn, your drive to 
get involved in healthy pursuits."

The second most-used drug in the community is crystal meth.

"Crystal meth is a hard drug," said Klassen. "It's highly addictive. I've 
read that often people are addicted after only one high. That's pretty scary."

And the other factor in the use of crystal meth is its tendency to cause 
weight loss.

"In some communities," said Klassen, "it's become popular with young moms, 
just for that reason. It helps them lose weight, and it gives them more 
energy, both things they're looking for."

In addition to being a very powerful and addictive drug, crystal meth is 
dangerous, says Klassen.

"Crystal meth is man-made," he said. "There are different recipes, and so 
you don't know what's in it, or how powerful it is."

Given the dangers of drugs, why do so many teens get involved with drugs?

Acceptance, says Klassen.

"I think they're looking for someone to accept them, and perhaps something 
to dull the hurt when they don't feel accepted," he said. "Children who 
have a group of friends who enjoy healthy pursuits, and families who love 
and accept them, are much less likely to get involved with drugs."

And so, while many resources are available, and much professional help is 
available in and out of the community for both drug users and their 
families, prevention is the strongest weapon in families' arsenals.

"Get involved," said Klassen. "Know what your child is doing and with whom. 
Show you care about him and accept him. Take an interest in your child's life."

The message is clear: the more parents are genuinely involved in their 
children's lives, the less they will need to be involved in unhealthy pursuits.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom