Problem of preteen addiction 'getting worse' in Windsor, says recovery home leader

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Problem of preteen addiction 'getting worse' in Windsor, says recovery home leader

Brentwood recovery home in Windsor is treating kids as young as 13 for dependency on drugs and alcohol and the issue is becoming "more serious," according to an addictions expert.

Adolescent group leader Marc Zakoor, said he works with eight teens —five boys and three girls — every day.

"The problem is getting worse because what I'm hearing is they're trying drugs and alcohol at 11, 12 and 13 years of age," he told Windsor Morning's Tony Doucette. "We need to do something."

Alcoholism and drug use can begin to take over a child's life even before they start seriously using them, according to Zakoor. Kids who feel insecure or defiant don't know how to deal with their issues and begin looking for a release.

"They start experimenting with drugs and alcohol and suddenly they feel better," he said. "They're learning how to deal with pain the wrong way."

Zakoor said he recently visited an area school and spoke to a Grade 6 class who "seemed to know a lot" about drug and alcohol use despite their young age. One young girl even asked what a person should do if they know someone who is hooked on drugs.

The addictions expert said he's hearing those type of questions from children more often, and said the best way to treat a young person struggling with substance abuse is to surround them with fellowship and a safe place to share their experience.

If an addiction is caught early enough, Zakoor said kids can count on a "great" future, but waiting can be dangerous.

"If you delay it … it can get really bad quickly," he warned.