Do we have a problem with drug use in Squamish? Of course we do.
Any substance one can think of is available in Squamish. We are on the main route between Vancouver, a major access port for drugs in Canada, and Whistler, a serious party town.
Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, crystal meth, MDMA (ecstasy), heroin, amphetamines, acid, mushrooms, and prescription drugs -people use everything here.
Consequently, we have many people who are affected by substance misuse. People develop addictions, which affects their families, friends and community.
The most common pattern of drug use over a life span is for people to begin to experiment with drugs in their teens.
Most begin with alcohol. This is perceived by many as socially acceptable and most teens hanging out at the liquor store have little difficulty finding someone who will buy it for them.
The next two most commonly uses are tobacco and marijuana. Of the people who try all of these, some will develop problems.
Almost everyone who uses tobacco becomes addicted to it. However, as use in teens is higher than any other group, many people apparently work hard at overcoming this addiction and eventually quit.
Marijuana addicts - and they do exist -find that the drug affects memory, motivation, attention and judgment. It can paralyze one from moving forward in life.
But perhaps the most devastating consequence of chronic pot use for people in their teens and early 20s is that it impedes the development of the frontal cortex, which is in rapid growth at this time.
This area of the brain is needed for executive functioning, which is our ability to make decisions, experience empathy and understand the consequences of our decisions.
When one stops using marijuana, the brain can eventually recover but the loss of potential is not reversible.
Figuring out that alcohol use has become an addiction can be difficult. Patterns of drinking can vary from binging primarily on the weekends to regular daily use of varying amounts.
Generally if your alcohol use is greater than one drink for women or two for men per day, you will suffer detrimental health effects.
If you can't manage the amount you drink or if your alcohol use is affecting your life in negative ways, you have a problem.
For many drugs there is no safe or healthy level of use, even if you don't develop an addiction. Ecstasy creates brain cell death upon first use. Crystal meth depletes and kills dopamine brain cells as does cocaine.
Heroin, morphine and codeine are effective narcotic pain killers but can quickly become addictive if over used.
When a person is addicted to substances their life will be seriously, devastatingly affected. Life can become complete chaos.
No child wishes to become a drug addict when they grow up. But all of us are vulnerable to addiction. Negative life experiences can make us even more vulnerable.
Do we have people who have substance use problems in Squamish? Of course we do.