The cost of substance abuse is staggering. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse reports costs in excess of $18.45 billion in 1992, representing $649 per capita or 2.7% of the gross domestic product for the year (Canadian Profile: Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 1999). In Saskatchewan the costs were $266 million ($265 per capita) for alcohol and $584 million ($581 per capita) for alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. The toxicity and potential to cause brain damage has increased markedly. The costs have escalated and the age at which drugs are being abused by children and youth has decreased. These substances are maiming and killing our youth and the costs are destroying our families, eroding our communities and draining our public coffers.
A Framework like the one proposed cannot be developed and implemented in a single stage or over a very protracted time frame. The children and youth, as well as their families, deserve our best efforts. We must work with them over the long term; to do any less would not be helpful and could very well be harmful.
Prince Albert and Area has opted to create a Demonstration Site whose model and learning could operate as a template in the province. IN addition, we are committee to working in and through the existing agencies and services to grow and build our response from within the community utilizing its existing strength and capacity initially. Additional resources and supports will be connected to, and emerge from, our base. We are Uniting to Heal the devastation of addictions and substance abuse in our community.