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'It's life and death': Addictions experts draw attention to youth drug use

Last Updated Sep 23, 2019 at 9:59 pm MST

Heroin needles. GETTY IMAGES/WIN-Initiative

CANADA — “It’s a very serious issue, it’s life and death.”

Addictions experts like Dr. Dean Vause, executive director of the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre, are shining a light on the issue of youth drug use.

He says it’s a serious issue among young people, but the problem is who they can go to, to talk about it.

“Kids don’t want to hear from me,” he said. “They want to hear from other kids and that may be the ticket.”

Vause says the best support comes from peers like Sam Stordy, a counsellor at AARC who also survived addiction and a severe overdose.

“I was dead at the scene and it took three shots of Narcan to bring me back,” he said.

READ MORE: 3 teens in hospital of suspected opioid overdoses

Stordy knows that it can be a challenge for young people to ask for help if they are dealing with a drug problem because of the fear there will be consequences.

” [That] you’re not going to be trusted by your parents to go out and hang out with your friends,” Stordy said.

The biggest thing, if you come forward with that, you’re going to have to do something about it.”

He adds there are many resources available, and it helps if the family has an open mind.

“The best word of advice I can give is, to be honest,” he said.

“If you can get that down and be honest with the people who care most about you, and let them do what they need to protect you from you, sometimes that’s the best route.”

Kids have to make a tough choice sometimes, he says, to resist pressure from their friends.

“I would reevaluate your friend group to be honest.”



With files from Megan McPhaden.