Drug and alcohol abuse — let’s talk about it on Thursday at 7

By David F. Rooney

Here’s a question for you: does Revelstoke need a Drug and Alcohol Abuse Strategy? Not a campaign — the Lord knows we’ve had drug and alcohol campaigns for decades — but a strategy, a way of looking at, and dealing with, the issue that wracks some local families.

Ask Jill Zacharias that question and you’ll get an unequivocal “Yes.”

“This is not the start of a campaign but of a strategy,” she says of the Public Forum on Drugs and Alcohol — Let’s Talk About It! that is scheduled for the Community Centre on Thursday at 7 pm. “The focus is to do what we already do, only better. At the end of the day, the goal is to promote things we can do to make Revelstoke a better place.”

Is drug and alcohol abuse a problem in our community? In part that may depend on who you’re talking to, but visit Provincial Court on the first Wednesday of every month and you’ll see a regular parade of people, some of them relatively well known in the community, charged with drinking and driving. That suggests a problem all by itself. And then there are our children. They see us adults drinking to relax or to socialize or even just to zone out in front of the TV. They may also see us, their parents, toking on a joint or laughing about how so-and-so got stoned on the weekend. What kind of message does that send to them?

“Kids mimic adult behaviours,” Zacharias said, adding that while that is normal and expected, “where it gets dangerous” is when they mimic adult behaviour with substances they are not yet equipped to deal with.

Zacharias and Lori Borges conducted a survey among 61 RSS students that found 78 per cent of respondents had tried alcohol, 38 per cent had tried tobacco, 36 per cent marijuana, 19 per cent psychedelic mushrooms, 18 per cent, XTC, five per cent cocaine, four per cent LSD, three per cent meth-amphetamines and two per cent crack cocaine. In all likelihood, the meth figure is skewed as Zacharias says that other drugs such as cocaine, crack and XTC are often laced with meth to amplify the high. So the actual figure for meth use is likely higher than the survey suggests.

However that works out it is clear to any thinking adult that drugs and alcohol permeate our social fabric. To a certain extent that is expected. Humans have used alcohol — and drugs — for thousands of years. But until the Baby Boomers came along in the 1950s and ’60s, drug use was a fringe activity. Alcohol was the No. 1 recreational relaxant and social lubricant for mainstream society.

Most people don’t have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse. They are moderate and don’t drive when they’re intoxicated. But some adults can’t handle it. They get busted for drinking and driving, abuse their kids and their spouses, screw up at work or simply call in sick and eventually watch the ruins of their dreams come crashing down around them. And their problems cost us all in terms of higher treatment costs, higher taxes to pay for an armada of government programs, higher policing costs, higher insurance premiums and so on. Stresses like these can leave the social fabric of a community — any community — frayed and tattered.

Is that what people in Revelstoke want?

Zacharias doesn’t think so and, as a result, Thursday’s public forum could herald the inauguration of a strategy with the potential to yield real results. If you have a point of view or would like to make a contribution to this discussion please come to the Community Centre on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7 pm and talk about it.

A film, Closing the Gateway, will also be screened at this forum.