Pubdate: Thu, 20 Sep 2007
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Glenn Kauth, Sun Media
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


No Rush To Provide Treatment For Local Meth Addicts

One year after a government task force called for 300  new beds to 
help crystal-meth addicts, local parents  still find themselves 
forced to send their kids out of  province for drug treatment.

While former health minister Iris Evans said last year  the cost of 
not implementing the recommendations would  be "far greater" than 
their $30-million price tag, the  government now says it's no longer 
rushing to enact  them. Instead, it's working on a broader strategy 
to deal with several different drugs, Alberta Health  spokesman John 
Tuckwell said Thursday.

Officials don't have a timeline for when that new  strategy will 
produce results, however. And while the  government is opening a new 
youth treatment centre in  Lethbridge Friday, parents of meth addicts 
continue to  wait for better services in Edmonton. The gap in 
programs is particularly wide for young adults, said  Maralyn Benay 
of Parents Empowering Parents, a support  group for families.

Sherwood Park mom Lynn Walker knows the challenge of  finding 
treatment services. She sent her 18-year-old  daughter to a B.C. 
program for meth treatment in April  after finding she'd have to wait 
eight weeks to get her  into a program in Alberta.

"There's no way she could wait that long," she said.  "We'd lose her."

In unveiling the long-awaited report on crystal meth  one year ago, 
task-force members spoke of the urgency  to act on the 83 
recommendations in it.

"We've drawn the lines and we can win. But if we don't  do something 
about this drug now, we're going to lose  more kids," said Dr. Bob 
Westbury, who co-chaired the  task force with former premier Ralph 
Klein's wife  Colleen.

The head of the Edmonton police drug unit, however,  said that while 
meth is a problem in the city, efforts  to educate the public about 
its effects have kept it  from wreaking the havoc it has caused in some places.

"We're not in the state that the United States is in  some states," 
said Staff Sgt. Darcy Strang.

In Edmonton, he added, cocaine continues to be the drug  of choice.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom