2.4 C
Friday, November 22, 2019
Connecting Our Communities

Firsthand experiences spell out the perils of drug use


Restored Victorian home in Elmira the subject of TV competition

Along with the influx of visitors that comes with the holiday season, Elmira will see one new...

New MP jumps to the next stage

Ever since he was elected as the new Liberal Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga during the October...

End of an era for MP

Two weeks having passed since the federal election, Harold Albrecht has had time to reflect on his...

Meet the candidates

By Veronica Reiner & Aneta Rebiszewski Five candidates are vying for your vote in...


broken clouds
2.4 ° C
4 °
0 °
51 %
75 %
0 °
5 °
4 °
5 °
9 °

As anyone who has sat through a school assembly knows, adult-led anti-drug initiatives can have a hard time connecting with teenagers. For Betty-Lou Kristy, who will be speaking on addiction to EDSS parents for the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council, the best way to reach skeptical minds is with firsthand knowledge.

“When somebody comes in who’s actually lived the life and experienced it, people pay a lot more attention to it,” said Kristy, who lost her son Pete Beattie to an overdose on prescription medication in 2001.

“For youth and emerging adults, that’s the key for them. They don’t want to be sold anything. They don’t want to be told what and what not to do. But when you come with just the reality – ‘Look, this is what’s happening out there’ – that seems to be a lot more effective.”

Kristy herself struggled with addiction to street drugs in earlier years, but she had no frame of reference for the substance abuse that claimed her 25-year-old son.

“It has completely changed the face of addiction,” she said of prescription medication. “Maybe in our day we could experiment and walk away. You don’t get to do that with opiates – the oxycontins, the hydromorphones, all of the pain medications. That’s the scary part – now the face of addiction goes from younger and younger right up to seniors.”

While these prescription drugs have their place, Kristy believes lack of education and understanding is a growing problem.

“Sometimes if your kid comes home with a really bad headache, and you’ve been given a prescription from your doctor for a pain medication, a parent might accidentally say, ‘Take one of these.’ You’ll start off with Percocet and oxycontin.”

Kristy will visit EDSS as part of “In the Mind’s Eye,” a two-month series of events across the region designed to make children and parents understand this new landscape, and possibly clear up misunderstandings.

“Some think that prescription medication is safe,” said Jessica Hutchison, community development and research coordinator for the crime prevention council. “If it’s not prescribed to you, it’s not safe for you.”

Other misconceptions abound, Hutchison noted. “I think also, the social acceptability of binge drinking is a really big problem, with our young people as well as with adults. It’s acceptable to get drunk, it’s acceptable to be trashed. I think that causes a lot of harm.”

By using guest speakers with experience, the program seeks to not only clear these misconceptions, but foster a better understanding of what addiction means to the addict.

“People are less forgiving of people who get stuck in addictions,” noted Kristy. “They seem to look at it as if it is a lifestyle choice, and it’s not. Addiction is an illness, and these young people are getting trapped just because they’re experimenting and they don’t have the knowledge.”

“Lots of kids tell us they want more education in the school system,” said Hutchison, “and not just from their phys-ed teacher, as well-intentioned as the phys-ed teacher is. They want to hear the real goods: what can happen to me?

“One-off events do not change people’s behavior,” Hutchison admitted, “but at least it gets the conversation started.”

Betty-Lou Kristy will speak to parents at EDSS on November 13 from 7-8:30 p.m. On November 26, former addict and dealer Rick Osborne will speak to parents and youth about his life and experiences 7-8:30 p.m. Other events taking place in Kitchener and Cambridge in October and November can be found at www.inthemindseye.ca.


  1. I applaud EDSS and the school administrators for acknowledging the issue of drug use in and around Woolwich Township. Inviting speakers into the school will hopefully further educate students and parents and create opportunities for discussion around drug use. This is part of a drug strategy that EDSS is working on in an attempt to stop the unnecessary loss of life due to drug overdose. Drugs, both illegal and prescription, are readily available everywhere and are having a tremendously negative affect on families. It takes educating both students and parents so that informed decisions can be made, and the proper life-saving action can be taken in an emergency situation.

    Christine Padaric

Comments are closed.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


When disaster strikes, they answer the call

An Elmira couple has dedicated their retirement time to helping people across North America rebuild their lives after a natural disaster strikes. Karen and Willard Martin travel to various...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Elmira’s Kambel Beacom gets hockey scholarship to Syracuse

Still a student at EDSS, Elmira’s Kambel Beacom already has her postsecondary plans in place – well, mostly – as she’s received...

Jacks reclaim top spot in standings despite mixed week

Three games in as many nights last week saw the Wellesley Applejacks go 1-1-1. That may not have been what they’d hoped...

Free to explore the sounds of many international influences

Through four albums, Amanda Martinez has explored the music of her roots – she’s the daughter of a Mexican father and South...

Region’s youth job-training program wins innovation award; now set to expand

An employment program in Waterloo Region that “aims to break the cycle of poverty” has been officially recognized at the provincial level...

Woolwich will need millions to improve standards of its road network, says report

Woolwich should be setting aside millions of dollars to maintain its roads, according to a report released this week.

Team Canada prepares for para ice tournament with training camp at WMC

The Woolwich Memorial Centre was the training ground last week for 22 elite athletes on Canada’s National Para Ice Hockey team. Their presence...
- Advertisement -