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Kids and Drugs info sessions aim to educate local parents

Kids and Drugs information sessions are coming to a community near you.

Kids and Drugs information sessions are coming to a community near you.

Earlier this month, Cold Lake RCMP and the Cold Lake Victim Services Unit (VSU) announced the creation of the Cold Lake and Area Drug Awareness Prevention Program after being approved for a grant from the Alberta Solicitor General Crime Prevention fund.

Part of the $15,900 grant will help cover the cost of the Kids and Drugs information sessions, which are geared to help prevent youth from heading down the dangerous path of drug and alcohol abuse.

Working with schools, the RCMP, VSU and Addiction Services Cold Lake will host a series of meetings at schools and communities throughout their catchment area, including the Elizabeth Métis Settlement, Cold Lake First Nations, the MD of Bonnyville and the City of Cold Lake.

Each session will include topics such as the power of parents, talking with your kids, helping your kids make good decisions, and what parents need to know about drugs. Those will be broken down into important discussion points, including what parents can influence, drawing on community and school resources, talking about drugs and alcohol, and developing your child's self esteem.

“If parents are going to open up to discussion with their kids about drugs and alcohol, they need to be prepared for what they are going to hear,” said Cold Lake VSU program manager Dave Zimmerman, adding these sessions will help educate parents on starting the conversation on drugs and alcohol and how to respond in a helpful way.

The sessions will also focus on three of the most common drugs, W18, methamphetamine, and fentanyl. An RCMP member will speak to the risks of drug use, and signs and symptoms that may indicate drug use.

Zimmerman said that although drugs such as W18 are not currently a problem for the area, they are growing in popularity.

“That's the newest drug out there in Alberta, so we are trying to nip it and prepare parents ahead of time.”

In terms of fentanyl use, Zimmerman explained it is part of the reason why the grant was approved in the first place, because communities need a program in place to help educate parents, and youth on the dangers of using drugs.

“We are also going to talk about the kit,” he continued.

The Naloxone Kit contains a drug that can reverse an overdose on fentanyl. It can be carried by someone using fentanyl as a precaution. These kits are available free of charge at the Cold Lake Hospital.

Parents with children “coming of age” are likely to benefit from the sessions the most, however, Zimmerman said they are not discouraging anyone from attending the information sessions.

“For the parents whose kids are using drugs… yes, it can be helpful for them, but this is more for parents who want to have an awareness on what to look for, how to talk to their kids, where their kids are somewhat open and receptive to help or prevention.”

For parents who currently have a child using drugs, information on resources in the area will be available at the sessions.

“It's no secret, I think drug use in our community is a problem. We want our children to be safe, and we want our teenagers to be safe, and we want to live in a drug free environment as much as we can,” stressed Zimmerman. “It's going to be hard to get there, but with programs like Kids and Drugs and this grant, I think we are going to be chipping away at it.”

Cold Lake RCMP S/Sgt. Jeremie Landry said, “You really need to balance education and enforcement. I think at any point when you are heavy on one side or the other, you are not accomplishing that right balance, and the best time to educate is when kids are younger.

“Our hope is that this education will help them to make the right choices as they get older, and as they start to maybe be faced with some tough decisions.”

The first session will be hosted at the Elizabeth Métis Settlement Community Hall on Oct. 25. Anyone interested must register before attending the event, as limited spots are available. For more information on the sessions, or to register, call Dave Zimmerman at 780-594-3302 ext. 3.