Pubdate: Wed, 08 Mar 2006
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2006 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Jean Doucha


Re: Don't tell me mandatory detox is a bad idea (March 7).

The proposed mandatory detox for youth may save lives. Just by virtue 
of its presence, youth who have become drug addicted can ponder the 
choice of going voluntarily into treatment or know that they may face 
the ultimate consequence of forced, short-term detox. That in itself 
may provide some motivation to take action. Needing help with drug 
problems raises a host of issues not only for parents, but for social 
workers as well who have youth in care. As a long-term addictions 
treatment provider, I have witnessed too many cases of parents and 
social workers getting youth into treatment beds out of pure 
desperation to stabilize an individual, and then react quite the 
contrary when the youth states, after sometimes just a few days, that 
he/she does not wish to remain in treatment and the youth is pulled 
from the program. I hear people say long-term treatment is necessary, 
and it exists in Manitoba, but I don't believe they understand what 
that process entails. It is a difficult road and many youth and 
parents lack the proper support and encouragement needed to sustain 
them during that process.

Youth these days face a lot of contradictions. We are a drug-using 
society. Feeling good has become the priority over working hard or 
making sacrifices in life. Kids can get free needles and crack kits, 
no names asked, but need parental consent to receive treatment. We 
state one thing, yet do another, and expect youth to use us as role models.

What would be more useful to a greater number of Manitobans related 
to youth who use drugs is an assessment and referral unit that any 
parent or youth could access. The present system does little to match 
needs with services and thorough assessments are often performed 
after referrals are made, rather than prior to. This is clearly a 
family health issue and parents and youth alike need the support of a 
range of service providers who understand addictions and know what 
services exist to meet their needs.

The one unintended consequence that I anticipate mandatory detox may 
have is that of driving drug-using behaviour underground with more 
running-away behaviour from our youth and consequently less help 
sought. And that would set us back a few decades in the field.


Executive Director

Behavioural Health Foundation

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