Pubdate: Wed, 22 Mar 2006
Source: Esquimalt News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Esquimalt News
Author: Brennan Clarke
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


Help is on the way for teenage crystal meth addicts.

Faced with a sharp rise in the number of youth addicted to crystal
methamphetamine, the provincial Health Ministry last week hiked its
annual health-care budget by $8 million to bolster youth addiction
services and expand available treatment options.

Just over $1.5 million will go to the Vancouver Island Health
Authority, with $1.2 million earmarked for new treatment beds and
another $363,000 for education and prevention initiatives.

Michelle Dartnall, VIHA's youth addictions services manager, said the
authority plans to increase the number of youth detox beds on the
Island to 10 from five, and add at least a dozen "longer-term"
residential beds to support recovering addicts.

"The bulk of it will go toward enhancing and expanding community-based
treatment programs," Dartnall said. "We're also looking at more
intensive day treatment programs and putting counsellors in cities
that don't have any. But clearly we need more beds, the community is
asking for that."

Currently all five youth detox beds on the Island are located in
Victoria and run by the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society.

The five new detox beds will be located in up-Island communities such
as Nanaimo, Courtenay and Campbell River, a move aimed at relieving
pressure on the Victoria beds and bringing services "closer to home."

"This will increase our ability to be really responsive," she

With the Vancouver Island beds in high demand, VIHA has often been
forced to send addicted youth to the Lower Mainland for treatment,
Dartnall added.

Pat Griffin, executive director of the Victoria Youth Empowerment
Society, did not respond to questions about the length of the
society's youth detox wait-list.

However, data provided by the society last spring estimated that
although the overall rate of youth addiction has remained relatively
constant over the preceding five years, the prevalence crystal meth
addiction has jumped sharply.

More than 60 per cent of YES clients in 2004-05 suffered from crystal
meth addiction, compared to just 11 per cent of YES clients in 2000-01.

Coroners' statistics from 2004 indicate that crystal meth was found in
the bodies of 33 people in B.C. last year, more than double the number
reported during the previous year.

Last week's announcement came just three days after Victoria police
chief Paul Battershill stressed the need for more treatment facilities
to help deal with the city's burgeoning number of crystal meth users.

"The enforcement stuff tends to be out in front of the four pillar
approach," Battershill said. "But there needs to be as much emphasis
on the treatment pillar as the others... we're trying to work a lot
more with the health people."

For fiscal 2006-07 only, VIHA plans to match the ministry's $363,000
contribution to education and prevention.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin