Parents, area residents and junior high residents all learned some valuable information at the Drug and Alcohol Awareness Fair held at the Weyburn Junior High on Thursday — but clearly, many more people than that need to get that information about how and why drugs are dangerous and need to be avoided.
The incidence of drug and alcohol abuse has increased in the Weyburn area in the last few years, while nationally some stats seem to show a lower use of some drugs in recent years.
What hasn’t changed is that abuse of drugs and alcohol cause harm, both to the person using them and to those around them in their lives, and the public at large as impairment leads to accidents, and a drain on the health care system, not to mention incidents of crime related to drug use.
According to Statistics Canada, the prevalence of harm caused by drug use is four times higher for youth aged 15-24 than for adults aged 25 and up. Further, one in six drug users have experienced some harm in the past year from their drug use.
One of the most clear cases of harm from drug and alcohol use is impaired driving, as road crashes remain the leading cause of death for teenagers, with alcohol and drugs a factor in at least 55 per cent of those collisions.
The 16-25 age group comprises about 14 per cent of the population, but account for 31 per cent of alcohol-related traffic deaths.
What does this say about the information that’s out there? Is it getting into the right hands in good time, to help prevent such harmful effects to the public and to society at large?
Clearly it’s a good thing that the junior high is having such an information fair available, but it’s also clear there needs to be more, and more powerful examples of information being made available, particularly at earlier ages, such as the DARE program given to all Grade 6 students in Weyburn.
An example of how the information needs to get out was seen in a recent edition of information items from the Weyburn Police Service, where a 14-year-old boy was charged with trafficking in marijuana. In a larger city this might not be much, but for a smaller centre like Weyburn, this is kind of shocking to see.
Perhaps this was a singular incident, but it’s also a sign there is still much work to do.