Pubdate: Sat, 05 Jan 2013
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2013 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Betty Ann Adam
Page: A3


SASKATOON - A grieving Saskatoon mother wants the community to join 
her in demanding the government help parents protect their teenage 
children from lethal drug addictions.

Chantaey Katchmar was 16 when she died from an overdose last July. 
Her mother, Carla Fenton Katchmar, wonders why the law gives teens 
the right to refuse treatment that could save their lives when their 
adolescent brains haven't finished developing and they're 
incapacitated by a physical disease that's overtaken their rational 
decision making.

"It lowers her age capability to, like, 13," Fenton Katchmar said.

She wonders why society fails to protect such children from their own 
bad decisions.

Addictions expert Colleen Dell says it's an important question.

"This is not an individual's problem, but a community problem," said 
Dell, who is the Research Chair in Substance Abuse at the University 
of Saskatchewan.

"That's not something we pay a lot of high priority to. We still put 
a lot of stigma on the individual who's using, (but) it's not about 
choice if a person is in that state," she said.

Addiction is officially recognized as a disease, but those afflicted 
don't receive the same empathy as people with cancer, she said.

"There's a lot of misunderstanding and we don't put in as much effort 
toward the resources (addicts) need."

Families, peers and friends need to stop looking the other way and 
talk openly about behaviours. Blaming won't help, she said.

"We know hands down from research the way people get better is 
they're supported," Dell said.

Addicts and their families need non-judgmental friends to lend an 
ear, help plan a course of action, find resources and follow up with 
encouragement, she said.

The courts and prisons are full of people who wouldn't be there if 
they could stop using alcohol or other drugs, she said.

"Why aren't we, as a society, doing more about this? It's costing us 
billions and billions a year," she said.

It was estimated in 2004 that smoking, alcohol and drugs were costing 
Canadians $43 billion per year, she said.

Fenton Katchmar has started a petition asking the province to give 
parents the power to force their severely addicted children into 
locked, long-term treatment.

A handful of small businesses around the city have the petition on 
their counters and a website, , asks visitors 
to add their names to an online petition.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom