U.S. drug czar says prevention will slow smuggling
The U.S. drug czar says prevention is the best way to reduce the flow of Canadian drugs moving into the U.S.
Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said Monday that the massive amounts of ecstasy, meth, heroin, marijuana and cocaine being smuggled south can most effectively be reduced by cutting down demand.
Asian gangs in Canada have been widely blamed for bringing drugs into the U.S., particularly ecstasy.
Between 2004 and 2009 seizures of that drug at the Canada-U.S. border went up by almost 600 per cent.
Kerlikowske is in Canada for the first time for a series of meetings in Ottawa and to help release a new set of Canadian tools to combat drug addiction among youth.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, in co-operation with Kerlikowske, released the first national substance abuse prevention guide on Monday.
The Portfolio of Canadian Standards for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention is geared towards front-line workers in drug prevention and treatment.
"We need prevention that is really focused on the best research and knowledge that will allow us to engage, educate, then ultimately empower young people to make the right decisions and that's what the national standards on drug prevention are doing," Michel Perron, CEO of the CCSA, told CTV's Canada AM on Monday.
The new standards will provide tools for drug prevention workers in schools, community-based programs and in family-based programs.
In the section aimed at schools, for example, the resources help workers assess their school's current performance, build on the current programs that are working, and introduce new programs and curriculum to meet the needs where gaps exist.
There are a total of 17 standards for schools to follow, ranging from accounting for current activities and determining abuse patterns, to setting goals and cultivating a "health-promoting school climate," and evaluating the end result.
The primary focus in all three areas is to prevent drug use among young people, Perron said.
He said drug prevention workers across Canada often lack the resources they require to do their jobs, and "having a single resource that provides both a theoretical overview and practical tools" is invaluable.
The new standards will provide tools for drug prevention workers in schools, community-based programs and in family-based programs. But the primary focus is on preventing drug use among young people, Perron said.
"Certainly what we've seen recently among young people...is that 20 per cent of high school students Grade 7 to 12 have admitted using pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical reasons in the past year," Perron told Canada AM.
"More troubling is that three-quarters of them got those drugs from their own family's medical chest."
Kerlikowske, the former police chief of Buffalo and Seattle who was appointed drug czar by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009, said the new national standards in Canada complement efforts south of the border.
"A renewed focus on drug prevention is a major component of the Obama administration's push to restore balance to our drug control efforts and implement a public health approach to reducing drug abuse and its consequences," Kerlikowske said.
"We look forward to collaborating with Canada to foster stronger prevention efforts -- a crucial component in reducing the demand for drugs in both of our nations."
According to the release, substance abuse among youth is a major problem in both Canada and the U.S., with more than 60 per cent of illegal drug users between the ages of 15 and 24.