Squamish has a problem - and the community looked it right in the eye this week.
Two very personal accounts of the scary affects of crystal meth use were delivered on Monday (April 10) at a forum on drugs in our community.
Neil Mattson, Anita Prine and a 28-year-old man who likes to be known only as Neil deserve recognition for their contribution to the forum. These three people put themselves out there and exposed their human flaws. They hope sharing the details of their bad choices will prevent others from falling into the lifestyle they led.
Their words put human faces to a crisis that many of us can't comprehend. Most readers simply don't come in contact with the drug-induced world Prine and the two Neils crawled out of.
Their words, combined with pictures, statistics and anecdotes presented by Dr. Jim Jamieson, Cpl. Richard DeJong of the RCMP and Washington State crime fighter Roger Lake reiterated for me a message I heard about two years ago when a similar panel talked about this very same problem one evening at Don Ross Secondary School.
One key message coming out of the meeting two years ago and echoed again this week is how important it is for parents to connect with their kids.
Neil pointed out he started drinking and smoking pot when he was 14.
If you have a child between the ages of 11 and 15 and you know they have never tried alcohol or drugs but have never asked them, I challenge you to ask your child today if they have.
They will say no, I'm sure. But they might surprise you. Your child might say yes and begin connecting with you in a whole new way about a life you didn't know your child was leading.
On the other hand, you might get an answer that you can tell is a total lie. Here's a chance for you to dialogue further and make a new connection.
I hope the answer to the question is an honest admission that your child has never experimented with nervous system altering substances. If that happens your child will know you care and hopefully continue to stay away from destructive behaviour.
Do like Lake did with his kids and urge your kids to learn from the mistakes of celebrities like Janice Joplin and Jimi Hendrix or more recent examples like drug-addicted rapper Old Dirty Bastard or hockey stars Dan Snyder and Danny Heatley.
There are other examples. Don't hesitate to use them to remind your kids over and over that drug abuse leads only to unhappiness.
Parents who don't take action might find themselves with a drug-addicted child and I can think of no scenario more unpleasant than watching a promising young person jump on the fast track to life's graveyard.