Friday, November 21, 2008


It's never too early to think about prevention.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, about 30 per cent of Grade 7 students in Ontario have tried alcohol.

That's why Lambton Drug Awareness Action Committee has invited 1,100 Grade 5 students from 25 schools in Sarnia- Lambton to this year's Racing Against Drugs.

The event is scheduled for three days this week, Tuesday through Thursday, at River City Vineyard.

"We have to engage these kids and give them the right information so they can make the right decisions later on in life," says committee spokesperson Terry Easterby. "We try to get to them before they get into the situations they'll start facing in Grades 6, 7, 8 where there is a lot of peer pressure."

The Racing Against Drugs program is designed to increase awareness and understanding about the negative consequences of substance misuse.

"Marijuana is a huge issue," said Const. Mel Wright of Sarnia Police Service's community policing unit.

Results from a 2007 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey found that 3.7 per cent of Grade 7 students had smoked marijuana in the previous year and the number increases to 44 per cent by Grade 12.

Wright said he finds when talking to students that marijuana is often the most misunderstood substance.

"If you have an attitude towards something you act and react to what you believe," Wright said, using the use of seat belts as an example. "If you believe they are more dangerous than not wearing them your less likely to use them."

When marijuana use is discussed with students, says Wright, "a lot of kids talk about marijuana being a plant that grows naturally" and they question how it could be dangerous.

Wright said young people are also exposed to painkillers, such as oxycontin and oxycocet for non-medicinal use.

"What's happening is the numbers are very close for marijuana use to opioid pain killers," said Wright. "What we're finding now is kids are getting their hands on them. So, if you look at Grade 8 students, almost one in four said they had tried these opioid pain killers for non-medicinal reasons."

Racing Against Drugs is a 12-station program featuring an eight-lane, 72-foot trioval slot track sponsored by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The message is drug-free living through auto racing, an exciting high-profile sport that doesn't tolerate substance abuse.

In addition to the race track, there are 10 other pit stops ( stations ) manned by community groups promoting healthy, drug-free living.


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