The following is from The National Post March 20, 2000
The Canadian Press
No longer just for junkies: Crack becomes drug of choice among Edmonton teens
Once considered a drug reserved for junkies and drug houses, crack cocaine use in Edmonton high schools is reaching epidemic proportions, says a substance abuse expert. "You would be hard pressed to find an Edmonton high school right now where crack wasn't being used every day," said Dr. Louis Pagliaro, associate director of the University of Alberta's substance abuse research unit. Dr. Pagliano has been tracking drug trends for more than 30 years and was RCMP's key expert witness during a landmark crack trial in Alberta in 1995.
The drug, normally smoked in a pipe, is highly addictive, with one in 10 users becoming addicted after their first use, he said.
George Nicholson, chairman of the Edmonton Public School Board, said it is possible the problem is as bad as Dr. Pagliano says. Mr. Nicholson is planning to ask for a report into crack use in schools in response to the doctors claims.
"When I was principal seven years ago we knew of pot and hash being smoked at school - but crack, that's not a progression we want to see," he said. "I hope Dr. Pagliano is not right, but he may indeed be."
Staff Sergeant Doug Carruthers, with the Edmonton police drug unit, said the jump in crack use is not restricted to Edmontons high schools. "Ten years ago we didn't have crack on the streets. You rarely saw it. Now what we've got is use of other drugs dwindling and crack use is soaring," Sgt. Carruthers said. "People are buying cocaine just to turn it into crack."
Although the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission doesn't differentiate between crack and cocaine use, figures show the number of Alberta cocaine addicts has almost doubled in the past four years. It jumped to 4,087 last year from 2,219 in 1996.
Keith Hughes, a consultant for the commission's cocaine addiction clinic in Grande Prarie, Alta., said there are dozens more addicts who are not treated. "Maybe they aren't at the end of their rope yet or won't admit the problem," Mr. Hughes said, "but there's no doubt we're seeing an increase in coke addiction."
'Crack' by Leo Knight
Canada and Lax Laws from The National Post
An Edmonton Story
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