Thursday April 17, 2014





Bad batch of ecstasy may hit Kamloops

School district not doing enough to prevent teen drug use: ASK Wellness director
Murray Mitchell

ASK Wellness Centre executive director Bob Hughes stands in the centre's doorway where a sign warns visitors of tainted ecstasy in the Kamloops area.

A bad batch of ecstasy believed responsible for deaths in Alberta and the Lower Mainland has reached Penticton and may be on their way to Kamloops, warned RCMP Wednesday.

“Ignoring this warning may cost you your life,” said Sgt. Rick Dellebuur of Penticton RCMP.

The pills are believed to be an adulterated form of ecstasy called PPMA, which takes longer to feel than MDMA and leads to more consumption until it kicks in and overheats the body leading to brain damage.

There have been no reports of hospitalization due to bad ecstasy in Kamloops, according to RCMP.

ASK Wellness, an advocacy organization for Kamloops drug users, is also warning its contacts and posted a note on its window front, said executive director Bob Hughes.

But, he said, their outreach might not be very effective since the demographic ASK reaches consists mostly of heroin and crack users.

“What we would point out is if there’s some bad E around there’s probably some really bad speed,” he said.

A more effective method of raising awareness would be through a Kamloops-Thompson School District based prevention but that has been inadequate, said Hughes.

“There isn’t a great linkage now in our area between the school district and a really solid prevention program,” he said.

“You’ve got some ad hoc addictions counsellors from the Phoenix Centre that attend, but you don’t have a clear education program for substance use within the student population, and I think that’s really unfortunate because that really is the population that we keep hearing about, the 15 to 19-year-olds that are dropping the E and ending up in hospital.”

Two years ago Interior Health eliminated a position filled by a Phoenix Centre drug prevention educator in favour of a healthy school co-ordinator, whose focus is primarily on health and fitness.

Angela Lawrence, school district drug and alcohol co-ordinator, said the district felt the loss. The district is paying for a Phoenix Centre co-ordinator itself, albeit for only six hours a week. She said the district also has a good relationship with ASK, despite the criticism.

However, she said, the district is not shirking the reality of substance abuse.

“This district has really taken the policy that there are going to be a number of students that are going to use no matter what we tell them so they’re going to go the safety first route and offer information.”

The district sends out information like bulletins on bad ecstasy to teachers and counsellors who reach out to students — most notably the at-risk kids, said Lawrence. There are also odd workshops on such topics as safe grads.

However youth addiction treatment through the Phoenix Centre is a stronger aspect of the district’s approach to substance abuse, said Lawrence.

“If a student is suspended (for drug use) the policy is they have to see a drug counsellor either during their suspension or upon their return. And it’s a number of sessions and the counsellor gets involved with the people in the school who are involved in the student’s life.”


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