Drugs and Alcohol Abuse - Addicted Youth Recovery Program Speech

Drugs and Alcohol Addicted Youth Speech


Drugs and Alcohol Addicted Youth Speech
by Paul Jacobsen


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In  2001 a project was undertaken to establish a long-term residential treatment facility for drug and alcohol addicted youth.

The selected location was a 50 acre ranch outside the small town of Keromeos, British Columbia. In April of that year the principals of the project extended an invitation to the towns' folk to attend a presentation at the ranch to explain, demystify and soothe local fears and concerns about the kids who would be living at the ranch undergoing recovery treatment. The following is the text of the speech given by myself in that endeavour. This speech was in turn also used by school board superintendents in the Okanagan region of the Province.

Speech Presentation

Thank you for coming today.

So far you have heard a number of people speak about the issues and the difficulties surrounding addiction and youth. You’ve heard about how Soul Harbour ranch will operate, and the many reasons why this establishment is so necessary given the scope of youth addiction in today's society. You’ve been given a glimpse at the bottom line …something most people can only guess about even though there’s much well-written press dedicated to these subjects regularly.

However, my time with you this afternoon has more to do with you and your community than the operation of Soul Harbour Ranch or statistics.

Soul Harbour Ranch will contribute to your community in a number of ways. Not the least of these is significant economic input. The specific budgetary components of that revenue would be of little interest to you. However the aggregate sum of approximately $1.5 million dollars, which is what we estimate will initially be spent annually for the various and ongoing needs of maintaining the ranch and its inhabitants, is significant. The benefits of these expenditures will inevitably trickle down through the community reaching a wide variety of beneficiaries.

For example …money spent on food supplies will benefit the grocer and therefore the grocer’s employees. The grocer may then decide to do renovations or additions that can now be justified. So, local carpenters and hardware merchants will benefit from that project ...later, the hardware store may decide to increase its advertising budget with the local newspaper, so the newspaper benefits too.

Simplistic as this may sound, it’s important to note that Keromeos cannot help but benefit, as a whole, from the injection of over a million dollars annually ...and that’s only the beginning …because as ranch operations grow over time, so too will the costs of upkeep, and that additional revenue will be spent primarily here in Keromeos!

Furthermore, at the outset, approximately 30 employees, mostly professionals, will be coming here. A number of them will become residents in Keromeos. They will buy houses or rent apartments, purchase sundries and participate in school and community activities. They will no doubt contribute to the community in their ways just as all of you do in yours.

Enough of cold numbers.

This afternoon I also want to talk with you about the human issues because in a larger sense they are of far greater importance to us as a society provincially …a society nationally …and a society human.

Ladies and Gentlemen, too often we are confronted with news that a child has been suddenly abducted. We see parents, such as those of Michael Dunahee, in absolute emotional agony over the disappearance of their precious child.

As human beings we can’t help but feel part of the pain collectively ...compassionately for the anguished parents, and desperately for the terror that little boy or girl must be feeling.

Sometimes these situations end with a happy and relieving conclusion ...but sometimes not. Who among us has not shed a tear upon learning that the child’s body was found, and that the hope we all cling to at such times is lost. Mindy, Heather, Michael ...all of us wished we could have done something ...done anything at all to have changed the awful outcome.

Ladies and gentlemen, what Soul Harbour Ranch is about, in essence, is ‘doing something’. The young people who will reside here are similar in a way to Michael, Heather and Mindy. The difference is that these youngsters have been abducted in a different way ...they have been abducted chemically …by people who only seek to serve their own selfish interests.

This is a problem without borders ...a problem without ethnicity. It’s a problem that’s an ’equal opportunity exploiter’. It can happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time for a variety of reasons.

All of us have made a mistake in judgment at some point in our lives. Some mistakes are relatively forgiving ...but others have long lasting effects …sometimes devastating ones. These kids made the mistake of believing someone they should not have. "This won’t hurt you" ..."try it just this once and have some fun" ...whatever the line was, these kids bought it and became victims ...their bodies and minds hijacked for someone’s financial gain.

I think you’ll agree its reasonable to assume that none of these kids woke up one morning and said "Gee, I think I’ll become a drug addict today". However, I will guarantee you that on that same morning, so to speak, the drug dealers awoke with a very clearly formed intent to sell drugs and find new customers.

The expression is: "just say no". So why didn’t they? It seems such an easy thing to say …doesn’t it? The reasons they didn’t do so are no doubt as diverse as the kids are themselves. However, I think there is one thing most of them share with all kids these days and I’d like to just touch upon it today.

The days of the Cleaver family or the Brady family are gone. Once upon a time those TV families were actually fairly close to real life …but that’s no longer true.

No longer is there the confidence and optimism many of us here today felt as we grew up in the fifties and sixties. No longer does anyone, let alone youngsters, have a real sense of long-term security.

Today a kid’s world is often parentless due to the need for two working adults just to maintain a modest home. These days, getting a job with your education is more an issue of luck than it is of hard work and dedication. Innocence has fallen victim to wariness. Virtue is scorned while hedonism is revered. Nowadays what you have is more important that what you are. Need I say more?

Kids these days are under pressures we could never have imagined as many of us grew up as little as twenty years ago. Some kids lose hope and just want to escape the overwhelming pressures, expectations and uncertainties their young minds are ill equipped to manage. Some, tragically, make a permanent exit from life unexpectedly …others try to hide from it all and become vulnerable to the dealers and pushers who infest neighborhoods and school yards everywhere in search of prospective customers.

Should we have less compassion for these hijacked kids than we do for the abducted ones? Should we just throw them away and reinforce factors that so often made them vulnerable to destructive temptations in the first place? Of course not …and that’s just one of the reasons for the establishment of Soul Harbour Ranch.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I opened today with some commentary about the economic value of this establishment to your town. Just now I touched upon the human values at issue ...and about helping kids who are in distress. Now I would like to close on a point of pride.

You see, recently Soul Harbour Ranch was invited to join what’s called the ‘Rainbow International Association’. That cooperative coalition represents credible organizations who are pursuing the goal of liberating people who have been hijacked by chemical dependencies ...they are organizations that have been doing this good work for many years and with exceptional success. We are proud to have been invited to join this association. Keromeos will have an important share in that pride …because Keromeos will become one of less than one hundred places on this planet where this style of addiction recovery is being employed.

In conclusion I’d like to thank you sincerely for the interest you are showing today in our endeavour. I hope you leave here knowing that this is a good thing for Keromeos, but most importantly for our youth, and therefore the larger community we call our ‘society’.

Ladies and Gentlemen, these kids have medical problems ...not criminal ones. These kids need and deserve a second chance to live an abundant life and make positive contributions to the future …Soul Harbour Ranch is here to provide that opportunity

On behalf of all of us I hope you will share our vision and encourage our efforts.

Thank you for your time today.

Paul Jacobsen

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Drugs and Alcohol Abuse - Addicted Youth Recovery Program Speech