Parents should 'try everything' to stop kids' drug abuse, youth worker says

A Manitoba woman who works with kids struggling with drugs says parents need to "try everything" to help their kids.

Parents should break down misconceptions, start conversations and seek out resources, Laiza Pacheco says

Laiza Pacheco, director of programs at Siloam Mission, says parents need to "try everything" to help kids who abuse drugs. (CBC)

A Manitoba woman who works with kids struggling with drugs says parents need to try everything to help their children.

Laiza Pacheco, the director of programs at Siloam Mission, said one of the hardest parts of battling drug abuse is there's no formula for parents to help them figure out if their kids will use.

"There's anxiety and depression and when these things go undiagnosed, I think kids are just looking for a way to feel better."

Drug use isn't a result of bad parenting, but parents should step up if they suspect their kids might be using, she said. Any change in the kid's typical behaviour should prompt parents to investigate, she said.

"It's giving these kids a really safe environment to talk, and sometimes that's not even enough," she said. "Really caring parents try everything. I don't think there's going to be one solution."

Parents might have to force conversations with their kids and could look to Addictions Foundation Manitoba, Klinic Community Health and Teen Talk for resources, she said.

"It's just so easy to say that's not going to happen to me, that I'm going to use these drugs and I'm not going to end up like that kid, or I come from a different background so I'm going to be able to do this recreationally and be OK," she said. "That's the really scary things about drugs — you just really don't know the effect it has on an individual."

Parents might also have misconceptions about which kids use drugs. 

"It's a certain sort of high-risk behaviour or a certain profile of a kid that you see on the street, and they think that those are the kids that do drugs and not my kids at home," she said.

"It's out there, it's easily accessible and it's widespread."

Pacheco offered the advice following the death of 17-year-old Winnipegger Cooper Nemeth. Nemeth's body was found Saturday night behind a house on Bayne Crescent in East Kildonan, the victim of what police have called a drug-related homicide. Nicholas Bell-Wright was arrested early Sunday morning in The Maples and charged with second-degree murder in the case.