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Drugs and alcohol part of youth and young adult scene in Whistler



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When asked what drugs they had tried during the previous 30 days 58 per cent of respondents said they had used alcohol and 42 per cent they had used marijuana.

Males were more likely to use marijuana and females to use alcohol.

More than 80 per cent of those surveyed said they could purchase marijuana or alcohol within 24 hours.

Sadly that’s a statistic Whistler can beat.

"I’ll tell you right now that 100 per cent of people in Whistler can get that in five hours," said McDonnell.

Part of the problem youth and young adults’ face in Whistler is the nature of the community. It is totally geared to having fun and partying. The activities are really aimed at adults but if that’s what youth see that is what they are influenced to do.

And the availability of the drugs is a big concern to McDonnell and others.

"What concerns us if those drugs are readily available, is if they are trying it at 13 to 15, are they going to be more inclined to use it when they are 18 to 24?" he wondered.

The pressure to use drugs can be quite subtle.

"Marijuana, because it is so socially acceptable here in the young adult population, is affecting the youth population," said McDonnell.

"The youth population observe that young adult population on the chair lift, in the village, and they are then desensitized by it because it is socially acceptable.

"The peer pressure is not overt it is more, hey, that snowboard kid who is sponsored and who’s got all the nice clothes and is popular in the school is doing it so next time I am at a party I’ll do it too."

And then there is the issue of parents using too. Kids copy what they see.

"Parents really have to ask themselves what kind of modeling they are doing," said McDonnell.

"It’s bloody unhealthy after all."

There are a number of resources adults and youth can access to get information or counselling on these issues.

McDonnell can be reached at 604-938-3902. Tessa McLaughlin, youth outreach worker for young women, can be reached at 604-905-1728.

Free drug and alcohol counselling can be found at 604-932-3312.

Despite the alarming statistics from the Lower Mainland study McDonnell believes Whistler kids are making the right choices.

"Whistler is well served," he said.

"The kids at the high school have lots of support and there are lots of programs. They are great kids making good decisions.