Edmonton

Parents forcing children into detox thanks to new act

A new Alberta law to help youth kick their drug habits is just over a week old, but the courts have already ordered eight young addicts confined to detox centres.

A new Alberta law to help youth kick their drug habits is just over a week old, but the courts have already ordered eight young addicts confined to detox centres.

The Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act allows parents of a drug-addicted child to ask the courts for an apprehension and confinement order.

It came into effect July 1. The first of eight successful applications was granted last week in Calgary. Another two applications are pending.

"It's not something that parents take satisfaction in doing. It's a last resort," said Maralyn Benay, a support worker with Parents Empowering Parents.

On Tuesday morning in a courtroom in Sherwood Park, near Edmonton,a clearly distraught single mother used that last resort.

Under oath, she told the judge she'd lost control of her 16-year-old daughter to crystal meth, cocaine and ecstasy. The teenager has dropped out of school.

The judge granted an apprehension and confinement order. The mother was shaken but relieved by the ruling.

The girl, who can't be named, is now in a secure treatment facility, undergoing five days of detox.

Proponents of the Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act initially wanted to allow parents to be able to force their children into 90 days of treatment, but that was amended to five days in a detox centre.

Benay admits five days isn't very long to turn an addict's life around.

"It's better than nothing," she said. "I'd like to take these children and keep them somewhere safe for as long as we could."

The private member's bill made history last year by being passed unanimously on a day when it wasn't scheduled to be debated. Private member's bills are usually only dealt with on Mondays, but all four parties in the legislature agreed to deal with it.

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