TRURO – A series of programs aimed at preventing children and youth in Colchester and East Hants counties from becoming involved with alcohol and drugs is being made available through federal funding.
Health Canada is providing a grant of $374,000 from the Drug Strategy Community Initiatives Fund to enable Mental Health and Addictions Services at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre to develop the programs over a three-year period.
In addition, other in-kind services from community partners actually brings the total dollar value of the programs to about $620,000, said James Snedden, Prevention and Health Promotions officer of the region’s Mental Health and Addictions Services.
“These programs are intended to work with people, either before they’ve started using or at a very earlier stage before they’ve identified that their use is problematic,” he said. “So it is hoping to intervene with those individuals and communities to either delay their usage or prevent them from using.”
The initiative, called Strengthening Youth and Families, is intended to provide direct service through four distinct programs during the next three years.
One program, called “High Stakes” is an annual summer adventure camp for youth between the ages of 12 and 17. Another, called “Challenge Accepted,” is an eight-week, in-school program for youth in Grades 7 through 9.
The others are two, 10-week family skills programs called “Strengthening Families for the Future” and
“Prescription Drug Abuse.”
While each program is tailored for different populations, all are intended to increase knowledge, awareness and better understanding of healthy lifestyle choices in relation to illicit drug use as well as the skills to support healthy decision-making.
“The stats are bearing out that we’re seeing more use of amphetamines and opium use among adolescents,” Snedden said, “and that’s fairly new information,” he said, adding health authorities have to address treatment programs to deal with the findings.
A 2012 Nova Scotia Student Drug Use Survey showed that youth in grades 7 9, 10 and 12 within Colchester, Cumberland and Pictou counties, had the highest use of amphetamines in the province at an average of 4.3 per cent. Comparatively, the provincial average was 2.1 per cent.
The survey also showed that among students in the region from the same grades, 37.7 per cent reported using illicit drugs, including cannabis, during the previous year.
The survey also showed that 43.7 per cent of Nova Scotians have reported using illicit drugs in their lifetimes.
Snedden said annual updates on the progress of the programs will be made to the community during the next three years.