Drugs and alcohol part of youth and young adult scene in Whistler 

Community workers strive to educate kids on dangers of substance abuse

The results of a new Lower Mainland drug and alcohol study are mirrored in Whistler, said a community youth outreach worker.

"I think the usage is quite high for our young adults between the ages of 18 and 24," said Greg McDonnell.

And kids as young as 12-years-old are already experimenting with alcohol and marijuana.

But McDonnell and others are working in the schools and in the community to make sure kids, parents and others understand the risks of this type of behaviour.

A couple of weeks ago Grade 7 and 8 students got together for candid discussions with youth workers to find out more.

"They were amazing workshops which took on a Harm Reduction theme," said McDonnell.

Harm Reduction accepts that youth are going to experiment with drugs and alcohol. The focus is on providing them with some decision-making skills and some knowledge about what some of the consequences are.

"We came up with three pillars to educate these youth," said McDonnell.

"They were to chart your own path, take care of yourself and others, and have a plan.

"If you find yourself in a situation where you have lied to your parents about going to a movie, you’ve gone to some party and the buddy you went with got smashed, what do you do?"

Those are the types of situations kids and parents have to be prepared for said McDonnell.

The high school’s Drug and Alcohol Committee has already had its first meeting and has drawn up strategies to focus on parental education, and alcohol and drug use. It is also looking at hosting a dry grad again in the wake of the hugely successful one last year.

Whistler also has an active outreach service for both youths and young adults, including a drop in centre in Millennium Place. Many kids consider it a safe haven and use it if they find themselves in a bad spot.

While no parent wants their children to be abusing substances, it’s a small comfort to know Whistler youth have somewhere safe to go for help if they can’t get home or aren’t ready to face their care-givers.

The Lower Mainland study found one quarter of young people have used the drug ecstasy, one in five has used cocaine, and almost the same proportion have experimented with speed.

The Pacific Community Resources study also found evidence of heroin use or experimentation among seven per cent of people aged 12 to 24.

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