Pubdate: Tue, 04 Dec 2007
Source: Sherwood Park News (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 Sherwood Park News
Author: Victoria Handysides
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Finding out a child is using or abusing drugs is a parent's worst 
nightmare. When the late nights become too late or many days in a 
row, when money or valuables go missing, grades slip and he or she is 
clearly a different, angry person, parents have one, very powerful 
weapon to combat drug addiction - a weapon that's been used over 600 
times in the year it's been available.

The Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act (PChAD) was a 
never-before-seen piece of legislation dropped by the Alberta 
government one year ago. Through the assistance of the court system, 
parents can apply for an apprehension and confinement order, and 
force the child to complete five days of residential detoxification - 
whether the child is cooperative or not. In the past, there was 
little parents could do for their children unless the child was a 
willing participant in the treatment process.

"It's a great resource for parents if they believe their child is 
involved with drugs," said Maralyn Benay, founder of the support 
group, Parents Empowering Parents (PEP). "It's given parents some 
rights back, because to some degree, kids have more rights than their parents."

PChAD gives children a place to detox in a healthy way, with 
supervision and a positive atmosphere to get back on their feet. The 
program is limited to five days, a time limit that Benay said is 
simply not long enough.

"We wanted it much longer than that - I mean, what is five days?" she 
said. "We were very grateful to get the five days, it's better than 
nothing. It gives us time to do crisis intervention with these 
children, but it needs to be extended."

A new government study says that in the year PChAD has been in place, 
almost half of youth involved continued to voluntary treatment afterward.

Benay said that though the findings sound promising, it's doubtful 
that many entered into long-term treatment.

"Define voluntary drug treatment, what does that look for to a kid? 
It doesn't necessarily mean going into a treatment facility, it could 
mean seeing a counsellor once a month or going to the odd A.A. 
meeting," she said.

While there are many treatment options out there for children, many 
are only available to those that decide they've got a problem. From 
weekly meetings with an addictions counselor to full-blown 
residential treatment, the options are there, though parents only 
have the right to impose five days.

"It's really frustrating for the parents because PChAD gave them some 
control over their behaviour when they're doing high-risk things and 
putting their lives in danger," Benay said. "On the other hand, the 
kid can walk right out if they're 16 and tell their parents to shut up."

Benay, like many of the other members of PEP, works in a social 
service medium, and hears the same stories over and over again.

"Kids don't understand that these drugs can really screw them up for 
a lifetime. They think they're all invincible, like we all did. They 
found a quick fix to take away the pain, and teenage years can be 
really painful for some," she said. "A lot of these kids are getting 
into criminal activity because they're under the influence or they've 
got to feed their habit," Though courts can sentence adults to 
mandatory drug treatment if the judge feels it necessary, children 
are in a gray area of the justice system that enables them to keep on 
using after they get out of PChAD until they go back in again.

"I know parents that have used it five or six times," Benay said. 
"And I don't know if putting them in PChAD over and over again is 
successful because it's such a process every time,"

For those parents that think that Sherwood Park is immune to the drug 
epidemic, Benay says to think again.

"Drugs are easily accessible to all kids in all communities. I 
thought we were ahead of the game when we realized there was crystal 
meth here," she said. "It's everywhere."

Thankfully, resources for parents are everywhere as well. The Alberta 
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) website is full of 
information on recognizing addiction, talking to kids, treatment 
options and resources. As an alternative to PChAD, outpatient 
treatment and day treatment is an option.

For more information on PChAD, visit

Benay said that while she and the parents of PEP are thankful for the 
program, it's far from the ideal solution.

"Are we glad we've got it? Absolutely. Does it need improvement? Absolutely."
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