Pubdate: Thu, 21 Apr 2005
Source: Surrey Now (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc., A Canwest Company
Author: Tom Zytaruk
Bookmark: (Youth)


Jerome Bouvier came to terms with his drug problem in New York City after a 
12-year-old boy tried to sell him crack.

The face of a 14-year-old girl he found under a blanket, dead of an 
overdose, kept popping into his mind as he rolled a joint with a friend.

He looked at his friend, and it dawned on them both: "What are we doing?"

There and then, he quit drugs.

It's not like he didn't have warning signs. He was already paralyzed from 
the chest down, the result of waterskiing while stoned at the age of 23. 
But even that didn't shake the "green monster" off his back.

Bouvier, who speaks with about 20,000 youth across North America each year 
about the perils of drug abuse, was a special presenter at the first of a 
series of forums held on the subject this week, sponsored by the Surrey 
RCMP and the Surrey school district.

He spoke to students and parents at the Bell Performing Arts Centre Monday.

"We're curious, aren't we?" Bouvier asked his audience of roughly 1,000 
Grade 6 and 7 students. "I got curious."

He started smoking pot at age 14. "Pot has a lot of friends," he said, 
listing cocaine, methamphetamine and acid. "I kept meeting all these 
friends." By age 19, he said, he couldn't function without cocaine and lost 
contact with his family.

Bouvier stressed to the students that they should listen to that "little 
voice" inside that tries to keep them out of trouble.

Surrey RCMP youth section constables Darren Munroe and Erika Dirsus 
discussed how getting caught with marijuana can lead to a criminal 
conviction that could prevent you from crossing the border.

During question period after the presentation, students asked if mouthwash 
was alcohol, if it's possible to get high on toothpaste, can someone "trip 
out" on cough medicine and how much alcohol does someone have to drink to 
get alcohol poisoning.

An exit poll of students revealed that lessons were learned. "I learned I 
shouldn't smoke and don't take drugs," said Elissa Taylor, 11.

Grade 6 student Jay Sivia learned that smoking marijuana can damage your lungs.

Krista Grewal, 11, said she learned drugs are harmful. "It's not good for 
you, how it affects your body," she said.
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