Pubdate: Thu, 03 Jan 2008
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2008 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Brian Medel, Yarmouth Bureau


Tobacco, Alcohol, Marijuana Top List Of Problem  Substances In
Southwest N.S.

YARMOUTH - More than 1,000 people in southwestern Nova  Scotia sought
help for an addiction during the 2006-07  fiscal year, says the man in
charge of addiction  services for the local health authority.

And information supplied by those clients from  Yarmouth, Digby and
Shelburne counties clearly reveals  the top five substances people say
they have trouble  with.

They range from tobacco down to benzodiazepines, or  downers, used to
calm nerves. Many clients are addicted  to more than one substance.

"About 60 per cent of our clientele . . . have nicotine
difficulties," said John Moore, the addiction services  manager for
the South West Nova district health  authority. "Second . . . is
alcohol at about 51 per  cent."

Cannabis is third at 26 per cent, cocaine fourth at 14  per cent and
benzodiazepines fifth at about five per  cent.

Addiction services also help problem gamblers, who may  even occupy a
bed in the Yarmouth detox centre from  time to time.

Statistics Mr. Moore cited suggest 60 per cent of the  district's
population have probably gambled for money  in the past year.

And of that group, two to five per cent suffer some  significant
psychological, personal, financial and  perhaps even legal
consequences, he said.

"However, we only are seeing a little less than two per  cent of the
gambling population that we serve here so  there's some work that we
have to do to promote that  service to people."

The addiction services staff recently designed a  gambling awareness
exhibition for use in local junior  high schools.

"We devised four stations and at each station  (students) learn . . .
we want them to be critical  thinkers around gambling," Mr. Moore said.

"We were approached by the Digby and Area Community  Health Board.
They were looking for something that  would be intriguing to kids and

A team put the exhibition together over the past four  months and took
it to some Digby County junior high  students.

One part of the program addresses lottery tickets and  advertising
campaigns that promote them.

"But the critical fact missing there is your chances of  winning a
6-49 jackpot are only one in 14 million,"  said Mr. Moore.

Students also learn how video lottery terminals work  and how the
house is set to come away with a profit.

The recent Nova Scotia drug survey given to some junior  and senior
high students also asked about gambling.

"Playing cards for money was by far the most popular  gambling
activity," said Mr. Moore.

Break-open lottery tickets and betting on sporting  events are also
big with teens. Males are more likely  to develop a gambling problem
than females, said Mr.  Moore.

Addiction services staffers hope to take their program  to all junior
high school students in Yarmouth,  Shelburne and Digby counties.

"There's still a great stigma with all the addictions,"  said Mr.

People can sometimes be less forgiving in their  assessments of
addicts than of someone suffering from a  mental illness, he said,
because drug or gambling  addictions begin with a choice.
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