Pubdate: Wed, 18 Apr 2007
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007, OSPREY Media Group Inc.
Author: Neil Bowen


Community professionals gathered at the University of Western Ontario
Research Park Tuesday to tackle a growing local substance abuse problem.

Statistics show drug and alcohol abuse is increasing in southwestern
Ontario, which translates into increased spending on health care,
policing and court services, said Dave Brown, executive director of
the United Way, which organized the event in partnership with the
research park.

Recovering drug user Jay Fewkes, 27, of the Kitchener area, was among
the 50 people who attended and made suggestions for an action plan.
The group included police officers, members of the Crown attorneys'
office and treatment agency workers.

An action plan will be presented to the same group in the coming

"We have to do something about it. It's a reality," said Fewkes, who
confronted his heroin addiction following a 2004 vehicle accident that
snapped his femur.

He had been drinking and was heading out to get drugs when the
accident happened. He had used drugs from the age of 12 or 13,
beginning with marijuana and alcohol.

"I upgraded to meth, crack and heroin," Fewkes said.

Substances abused vary and can include prescription drugs like
painkillers and ritalin used to treat attention-deficient disorder.
But the impact on the person and community is the same, he said.

His accident required the presence of police, firefighters and
paramedics. The cost continued during his treatment for physical problems.

Such community costs can be lowered by investment in treatment, said
Mike Hannon, of the Westover Treatment Centre in Thamesville, which
serves many Sarnia-Lambton residents.
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