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Role models



In a November, 2005 Maclean’s Magazine article titled “Pass the Weed, Dad” writer Marni Jackson spoke with several families where parents and children smoke or used to smoke pot together. While startling, this revelation should not surprise the millennium generation, (as they prefer to be called) raised on tales of Woodstock and the good times had back in Mommy & Daddy’s day.

The result of this laissez-faire attitude towards drugs and a narcissistic idea that parents should be “cool” and not worry about abdicating their responsibility as parents has coincided with an increase in binge drinking and marijuana use by B.C. students.

According to The McCreary Centre Society, a non-profit organization concerned with the health of young people in British Columbia, the percentage of students in B.C. that smoke weed has risen from 25 per cent to 37 per cent since 1992. The report also highlights that binge drinking is also on the rise as 21 per cent of males and 18 per cent of females admit to binging, up from 16 per cent and 12 per cent respectively since 1992. Alarmingly, kids are also drinking and using at a much younger age, with a full third of B.C. 13 year olds claiming to use alcohol. Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) reports that five per cent of school kids have tried pot before the end of Grade 6.

Drug and alcohol use is entrenched in popular culture and while most parents aren’t waiting to hit the bong once junior gets home from school, it’s apparent that families simply aren’t adequately equipped to deal with the issue of kids, drugs, and healthy choices.

Locally, there is an organization that is helping Whistler’s parents and youth deal with the issues of drug and alcohol use and abuse. Launched in February of 2003, Whistler for Youth’s vision is “to promote a safe community where residents and guests of all ages are comfortable and secure.” Whistler for Youth concerns itself with prevention, and its efforts address the needs of children, families and two youth groups: Whistler’s own youth and the young adults who are part of the permanent and temporary work force in the community. Whistler for Youth is an active coalition of organizations and individuals in the Whistler area. Representatives include parent organizations, community services, communities of faith, Vancouver Coastal Health, service organizations, schools and the RCMP.

The group has identified three risk factors on which to focus current efforts: Community standards that favour drug use; parental attitudes and role modeling; and a party atmosphere with expectations to use illicit substances frequently and at high levels.