Pubdate: Wed, 06 Sep 2006
Source: Stettler Independent (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 Stettler Independent
Author: Christopher Walsh
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Mother's Story Of Teen Addict Demonstrates Drugs In Stettler Too

Although nobody is calling it an epidemic, Stettler is experiencing
big city drug problems.

"We have it all," said Lance Penny, director of Alberta Alcohol and
Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) in Stettler. "We're not missing anything."

Penny says the drug situation here has remained stable, except for an
increase in cocaine use which he attributes to the work boom and the
increase in people coming to town. The boom has brought other things
to the community as well. Besides the regular marijuana and alcohol
use, harder drugs have hit the streets here. Penny says everything
from cocaine to crystal meth to morphine and crack have been reported.

Cocaine use is leading the charge.

"I think that's very much connected to the boom," Penny said. "We've
had waves of issues in this community. Years ago we had a real
epidemic with morphine and heroine for whatever reason. That has
cleared up and gone away and now we're seeing this rise in cocaine

And it isn't just oil workers getting caught up in drug use. It's also
affecting kids.

Linda -- whose last name is being withheld to protect her daughter's
identity -- moved to Stettler a few years ago with "Samantha". Her
normally bright, friendly daughter started to act differently shortly

"Anybody you talk to about her would tell you she's the most sweetest
little thing you'd ever meet," Linda said. She noticed a change in her
daughter's moods and the 15-year-old started staying out for days at a

Linda started to believe her daughter was addicted to drugs and went
to AADAC to find out what she could do. She says she was given a list
of drugs in the area and was surprised by what she saw.

"I was shocked, I can't believe the stuff that goes around in this
town," she said. "Back east, the things you would hear about was pot,
hash and oil. Then we came out here and I thought it's probably just
the same. But there's so many people that cover it up here."

Linda still isn't sure exactly what drugs her daughter was on but
suspects it was crack cocaine. Samantha's erratic behavior eventually
led to her stealing a car and being arrested. "That wasn't my
daughter, so I knew there was a problem," she said. "It came down to
the point where I had to show her tough love."

Samantha eventually stayed at a group home while her legal troubles
were dealt with. She has now left Stettler and is living with her
father in another province. It was the best move, says Linda, who
found it difficult getting her daughter the help she needed here.

"I tried to get her to go to AADAC but it didn't work," she

In a small town like Stettler, the best solution is getting kids
involved in different, positive activities, Linda says. "They need
some kind of program for kids to stay active, something families can
afford to buy a membership for," she said.

Although Samantha is clean now and finishing school, Linda says the
whole experience has opened her eyes to what is going on in town. She
says she doesn't feel safe walking around downtown at night anymore.

"I thought it was such a beautiful little town and nothing could
happen, but having a teenager in Stettler [has changed that]," she
said. "If people would just open their eyes, they'd see so much."

Sgt. Kevin Picard of the Stettler RCMP says he hasn't seen any
increase in hard drug use in town recently.

"That is a very positive thing," he said. "We know as a police agency
that the town is a microcosm of our entire province and we know that
there are those drugs out there and know that in our community there
will probably be those drugs. But the commonality of them are not
there for police to deal with on a weekly basis."

He says marijuana use is always an issue and RCMP here have busted
grow ops in the past. They have also worked on educating the public
with AADAC and other committees. However, Penny says the town is in
good shape compared to other communities.

"At this point in time, I think we're living in a pretty healthy
community," he said. "We're average or below average in terms of
consumption, in terms of problems. We're certainly not facing any kind
of drug use that would catch the attention of AADAC. That's not to say
that people aren't using it ... [but] we're not facing any kind of
exceptional situations here."
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