Pubdate: Thu, 22 Feb 2007
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2007 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Pamela Cowan, The Leader-Post
Bookmark: (Youth)


The adoptive parents of a 16-year-old drug user who has repeatedly
attempted suicide are worried their daughter will die in spite of the
province's new Secure Youth Drug Detox legislation.

The legislation, which came into effect on April 1, allows 12- to
17-year-olds to be detained in a secure facility for detoxification
and stabilization for five days with the possibility of renewal for
two additional five-day periods.

"I'm absolutely desperate for any kind of help that we can get for our
daughter," said Marilyn, who asked that her last name not be used
because she's afraid of retribution from drug dealers to whom her
daughter owes money.

"We've used the drug detox legislation three times since Jan. 29. They
kept her for 10 days the first time and then they let her out. They
said that the drugs were out of her system and that's all they could
do. They had no place to put her."

Marilyn knows her daughter has "fetal alcohol problems," but the
couple doesn't know the extent of her disorder.

"Our daughter is not mentally capable of making proper decisions for
herself," Marilyn said. "Even at home, we have to remind her to do
things that you wouldn't have to remind a six-year-old to do."

The girl's behaviour has been difficult since she was a baby. Problems
escalated when she was 10 and started running away from home. Working
with social workers, a psychiatrist and mental health workers, her
parents have placed her in group homes and foster homes. When they
couldn't deal with her, a Regina psychiatrist recommended the teen be
admitted to Ranch Ehrlo Society, where she was treated for more than a

"She was good while she was under 24-hour supervision," Marilyn said.
That changed soon after her daughter left Ranch Ehrlo at the end of

"At the beginning of September, she started into cocaine," said the
distraught mother.

Using the drug detox legislation, the teen's parents applied to have
her involuntarily placed in the Paul Dojack Youth Centre on Jan. 29.
She was released on Feb. 8, but within 30 hours she overdosed on pills
and alcohol and returned to detox on Feb. 12.

"When they did the blood screening they found amphetamines and a
friend said that she'd taken ecstasy then," Marilyn said.

A later blood test showed the girl was clear of drugs so she was
released on Feb. 15. She immediately ran away. Located early the next
morning, she was high on drugs and was re-admitted to Dojack.

"She has tried to commit suicide so many times ... In a two-year
period the police have been to our house about 30 times trying to help
us," said her adoptive mother. "They had to kick down our bathroom
door when she was cutting herself. It's a nightmare. I've slept on the
floor outside of her room in the hallway because they've said: 'You've
got to keep watch on her all night so she doesn't commit suicide.' "

John McCallum, an alcohol and drug program consultant with
Saskatchewan Health, can't comment on specific cases, but said that
drug addicts who have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) are very
challenging cases.

"With severe substance abuse, there is an intense craving that can be
complicated by the FASD in terms of impulsivity that can often
accompany it so that's why we need a range of services to address it,"
he said.

Addiction professionals refer patients to Saskatoon's Calder Centre,
but they must agree to go, McCallum said.

The 44-bed facility in Saskatoon has 12 youth beds, a youth
psychiatrist and a neuropsychologist who specializes in FASD.

Other new treatment options in Saskatchewan include an interim six-bed
unit at Pineview Youth Terrace in Prince Albert.

By spring next year, it's expected a 12-bed permanent unit in
Saskatoon will open, as well as a 15-bed permanent centre in Prince
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek