Pubdate: Wed, 29 Mar 2006
Source: Lakeside Leader, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 The Lakeside Leader
Bookmark: (Youth)


The drug problem, like other deeply-rooted ills of society isn't going
to go away. No amount of positive affirmation is going to change that.

But thank goodness things can be done to improve the situation. Things
can especially be done, in the case of drugs, booze, cigarettes and
other addictive substances, to remove all ignorance about what they
are. Those efforts are worthwhile and are going on in a variety of

One way is to have someone who's been through the mill talk to our
kids, in plain language, about how bad drugs and booze can be. It may
seem harsh to force elementary school students to listen to such
tales. Many parents tend to want to protect their kids from unpleasant
realities. But on the other hand, many fine parents learn too late
that their children didn't really get the message.

Apparently it's not enough just to be good, loving supportive parents.
It doesn't prevent kids from falling into destructive lifestyles.

Sometimes they do because they don't know what they are getting

Such was the testimony of a young Edmonton man, a former crystal
methamphetamine addict, who spoke to a Slave Lake audience last week.
At 15 years of age, he didn't really know the down side of taking
amphetamines, he said. Whereas the upside was described in glowing
terms by someone he probably thought was pretty cool.

In he jumped, and it wasn't long before he was dealing drugs to
support his habit, losing his health, his family, and his friends.

This could happen to just about anyone. And it shouldn't, if an
occasional harsh reminder of the dangers could make the difference.

Peer pressure, of course, is huge. In the junior high school years
especially, kids seem to lose all conception of doing anything that
their peer group doesn't think is cool. Drinking and smoking certainly
become popular during this phase, and the attitudes that can lead to
drug use begin to solidify.

Statistics show that the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education)
program the RCMP teach in elementary school classes has a measurable
effect for a few years. After that, those who took DARE are
indistinguishable from those who didn't (in terms of their likelihood
to drink or take drugs).

Last week ex drug addict Mike Ryan spoke to elementary students at
E.G. Wahlstrom school with a horrifying tale of his own personal drug
addiction hell. It was rough stuff, but effective.

Meanwhile, there are kids not much older who are wandering the
streets, scheming to finance their next hit of crack cocaine. Much of
the property crime in Slave Lake directly relates to drug addiction.
Maybe if they'd had Mike Ryan in their faces a few more times, they
wouldn't have gone that path. Maybe, because there are always many

So the message may be a shock for Grade 6 students. But if it's true,
they should hear it. They should hear it again in Grade 7, Grade 8,
Grade 9 and as long as they can be compelled to sit in a room and listen.

It won't 'solve' the problem. But it will hammer home the awful risks
of addiction. And no child, when contemplating their first sample of
crystal meth, should be in any doubt whatsoever about what they are
dealing with.

We can and we should do that much for them. 
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