Montréal, November 17, 2014 – As part of Drug Awareness Week, which runs from November 16th to the 22nd, Portage will be unveiling the results of a CROP poll in order to raise awareness on an issue of increasing scope and concern: the dangers of synthetic drug use. Synthetic drugs include GHB, amphetamines, methamphetamines, bath salts, ecstasy and ketamine. These drugs are produced in laboratories that are often clandestine operations.
Over the last year, the devastating consequences of synthetic drug use have been observed in Montréal, where it was reported to have caused approximately fifteen deaths and close to thirty severe intoxications in May alone. This situation is extremely disturbing. Among the newest chemical drugs being used, Portage has decided to draw attention to bath salts, which produce stimulating and hallucinogenic effects. “These drugs are becoming increasingly popular among young people with substance abuse problems. Sold as a white crystalline powder resembling conventional bath salts, they are much more dangerous than they seem,” stresses Danielle Des Marais, spokesperson for Portage.
In order to properly document the situation, the CROP polling firm graciously agreed to survey Quebecers on their perception of these drugs. Among other results, the survey found that more than one in ten Quebecers (16%) claim to know someone using synthetic drugs. “What worries us most at Portage is the finding that the proportion of persons who know a synthetic drug user increases to 30% in the 18 to 34 age group. Data such as this confirm the importance of prevention among young people,” says Ms. Des Marais.
Results show that, overall, 74% of people surveyed think synthetic drugs are dangerous from the very first use. This percentage drops to 59% in the 18 to 34 age group; 18% of respondents in this age group consider that using synthetic drugs is dangerous only when used several times per week, a number that drop to 12% among the total number of respondents surveyed. “Adolescents are at a stage in their life where they want to experiment and where they display a certain gullibility about the dangers these drugs represent. We need to be vigilant in our approaches and to provide them with relevant information that will help them make informed decisions regarding their behaviours,” explains Danielle Des Marais. At Portage, we believe that awareness-raising visits where a graduate from one of our programs speaks about his or her experience with substance abuse and therapy can open the eyes of listeners and allow them to really grasp the devastating effects of drug abuse.
Moreover, in a context where the government is proposing a major healthcare reform, it is important to remind politicians that 78% of the populationbelieve synthetic drug use, especially by young people, is an issue of great concern. “Nearly two-thirds of respondents stated that the government should provide more funding to rehabilitation centres fighting against drug addiction. We at Portage hope that elected officials will hear this message and will not jeopardize the substance abuse mission of the new integrated healthcare and social services centres,” emphasizes Peter Howlett, President of Portage.
During Drug Awareness Week, Portage isorganising several activities aimed at raising awareness about the harmful effects of chemical drug use. In addition to meeting with some MNAs to convey information about substance abuse, Portage will also visit several schools and organisations to speak with people of all ages.
For over 41 years, Portage has helped thousands of substance abusers overcome their addiction. The organization offers a variety of services tailored to the needs of its resident adults, adolescents, substance-dependent mothers with young children, pregnant women suffering from drug addiction and mentally ill substance abusers. Portage’s rehabilitation programs offer free services that have been recognized and accredited with Exemplary Standing by Accreditation Canada. Portage operates several substance abuse treatment centres in Quebec: in Montreal, Beaconsfield, Prévost (Laurentians), Québec City and Saint-Malachie (Chaudières-Appalaches). Two other establishments serve the populations of Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
For more information, visit www.portage.ca