Pubdate: Fri, 13 Dec 2002
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Harvey Davey
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


Re: Chuvalo joins Ontario's drug war, Dec. 6.

I support George Chuvalo's efforts to bring the message to youths that 
respecting themselves means no smoking, drinking or drug use.

However, it is in teenagers' nature to try things, risky things. They are 
not stupid. They believe they can handle using drugs and can quit if they 
have to do so. Some discover that they have to quit and cannot. They need help.

If we do not want more young people to die from drug overdoses, we need to 
offer real help, not fear-based prevention, detention centres and drug 
wars. After 30 years of fear-based campaigns such as "Just say NO to drugs" 
campaigns and the war on drugs, 80 per cent of young people in Ontario are 
drinking under age and half have used illegal drugs by Grade 12, according 
to the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health. More youths use drugs now 
than when the "war" started.

London-Fanshawe MPP Frank Mazzilli's fight against drug abuse is 
meaningless without a commitment to help kids if they need it.

If we want to keep them alive when they get into trouble with alcohol and 
drugs, we will have to use our resources for reality-based education, harm 
reduction and treatment as suggested in the report of the Senate's special 
committee on illegal drugs chaired by Pierre-Claude Nolin.

Mr. Chuvalo's family message is an important part of the reality. Mr. 
Mazzilli's message distorts reality. He does not say how many of the 307 
who died from overdoses last year were kids. Nor does he address the 
reality that his strategy to end abuse has failed for 30 years.

Mr. Chuvalo may get some kids who are using drugs to ask for help. If Mr. 
Mazzilli is serious about helping them, he needs to address the pitiful 
shortage of treatment beds for kids under 16 in this province.

Then he might address the critical shortage of treatment beds for teens 16 
to 18. If he would do that, he might actually save some kids from dying of 

Mr. Chuvalo's efforts to educate kids must be supported fully with harm 
reduction and treatment, not just words, police and prisons.

Harvey Davey

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