Crime Stoppers

Boating While Under the Influence

Over the Limit or Okay to Drive?

Now that summer is in full swing, Crime Stoppers of Northwest Ontario would like to remind boaters about the risks of drinking and boating.

Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada and is illegal in every state across the U.S.A. (BOATsmart! and MADD). Penalties can includes large fines, suspension and/or revocation of boating and/or drivers license, and jail time. In some areas, the fines and penalties for driving a boat while under the influence are treated the same as drinking and driving a motor vehicle (U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Division). Although these penalties vary between provinces and territories in Canada and states in the U.S.A., the message is the same – a boat is still a vehicle and operating it under the influence is illegal and dangerous to yourself and those around you.

Also keep in mind that these laws also apply to other types of watercraft including jet skis, canoes, kayaks and paddle boards. If youre unsure about the regulations in your area, contact your local law enforcement for more information.

Effects of Alcohol While Boating

Alcohol impairs judgement, effects your balance, coordination, vision and reaction time – increasing the risk of accidents occurring on the water.

Alcohol is a factor in almost 40% of boating incidents and many people do not understand that there are stressors, such as noise, sun/wind exposure, waves and rocking of the boat that can greatly increase the effects of alcohol and threaten the safety of boat operators and passengers while on the water. All of these factors make boating while drinking just as dangerous as drinking and driving a motor vehicle (Canadian Safe Boating Council).

Carrying Alcohol on Your Boat

In Canada, passengers can legally drink alcohol on a boat as long as it is equipped with permanent sleeping facilities, permanent cooking facilities, permanent toilet and it is anchored or secured alongside a dock. Not all boat types meet these requirements therefore before any passenger consumes alcohol on your boat it is your responsibility as the operator to make sure your boat meets these requirements. Provinces and territories have their own rules for when you can drink and how you can carry alcohol on board – contact your local law enforcement for more information (BOATsmart!).

As the operator, you are responsible for the safety of your passengers and for making the waterways safe for others. Stay sober and make sure everyone arrives home safely.

Stay Safe While Out on the Water This Summer

Follow some of these tips while youre out on your boat to avoid boating and driving:

Pack a selection of non-alcholic drinks like water, juice, soft drinks and iced tea along with lots of food and snack.

Its going to get hot out there – bring clothing that will keep you and your passengers cool.

Plan your trip so that you can avoid getting tired. Stressors like sun and wind exposure can tire you out more quickly while out on the water.

If you stop somewhere and drink alcohol with your meal, wait a reasonable time (estimated at a minimum of an hour per drink) before heading back out on your boat.

Not carrying any alcohol at all on your boat is the safest solution. Even passengers that have consumed alcohol are at risk of getting hurt while on your boat.

Get this message out to as many boaters as possible. A boat is a vehicle and as the operator, you are responsible for the safety of your passengers and for making the waterways safe for others.


Inhalants & Volatile Substance Abuse

Help Stop Inhalant and Volatile Substance Abuse.

Every year an untold number of individuals die as a result of intentionally inhaling common, legal, everyday home, school and office products. The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) reports approximately 100 to 125 inhalant deaths per year, based on contacts with families of victims and media accounts.

Intoxicating Inhalants: The Problem

There has always been a problem with juveniles, teens and young adults misusing and abusing over the counter and prescription drugs. Yet, in this instance, we define the term, “drug”, as any mood or mind altering substance obtained and consumed or inhaled without the knowledge and legal consent of a prescribing licensed physician. This may include any household product when used contrary to manufacturer’s intended purpose. Misuse of inhalants and volatile solvents are especially dangerous to such extent a single use can and has resulted in sudden death for some Canadian youths.

As a parent, if inhalant use and abuse is a subject unfamiliar, in a moment you will understand why parents allow proper attention to this group of quirky substances and why the threat to users is especially serious in some communities. More to the point, this threat increases exponentially because it is highly likely several of these chemicals and/or chemical compounds are sitting in your home at present. Of course, this alone makes for the easy access since unlike alcohol, nicotine and cocaine, where acquisition and access are prohibited by law and potentially costly to acquire.

Inhalants Defined

Inhalants may be anything from gasoline, lacquers or spray paints, paint thinners, glue, compressed air, a chemical in whipped cream, a component of Sharpie markers, furniture polish, chemicals in pesticides and a thousand other common household products. These products typically contain any or all of three common chemicals: Toluene, fluorocarbons, and nitrous oxide.

tipshelpManufacturers of lacquers and other materials routinely publish full disclosure statements warning those who work with or have contact with their product of dangers stemming from exposure. An actual example, of one such warning shown.

Just as we have stated in this article, so do manufacturers warn… death can result from misuse and prolonged exposure. Truth is this… anything in an aerosol and vapor form can ignite and potentially explode. Intentional misuse via inhalation and especially prolonged use is essentially the equivalent of a loaded shotgun and a death wish. Do not do it and tell your children not to and why – you may save someone’s life by sharing this information.

How Inhalants Enter the Body

Inhalants and volatile solvents enter the body much the same as oxygen -users breathe in through the mouth or via nasal passages. Inhaled chemicals quickly pass through the lungs and enter bloodstream, easily passing blood-brain barrier -a boundary human bodies possess designed to keep poisons from interrupting brain functioning. From this point, anything goes. There are, however, various stages users commonly report experiencing.

What Inhalants Do

Initial physical response to inhalants a user loses inhibitions and begins to feel “high”. This feeling of euphoria is actually a state of confusion within the body and mind. The “high”, or euphoria, begins sometimes within seconds or may take as long as a few minutes before the feeling initially occurs. Inhalant users have reported dizziness, nausea, vomiting and even loss of consciousness as side effects. Minutes later, a user may hallucinate. Once the high passes, solvents act much as depressant drugs or alcohol slowing down the body’s central nervous system.

Some users suffocate after becoming unconscious when “bagging”. Some experience hyper-sensations of being invincible that may result in an individual inadvertently taking their own life in an accidental death circumstance. Still other users have burnt to death because inhalants and solvents are highly flammable and may catch fire from sparks of a misplaced lit cigarette.

Inhalants Long Term Effects

If users do not die from volatile solvents and inhalants in short term, long-term effects are quite serious. Some examples: chronic nose bleeds, hearing loss and brain damage. Impaired functioning of vital body organs such as liver, kidneys, heart and lungs, as well as bone marrow. Most of these disorders never go away and continue to plaque users until death. (

Immediate Signs of Inhalant Use

According to Canada Public Health Association web page offering an overview on inhalants and solvents, the following are a few day after signs and examples of telltale signs parents should watch for. These symptoms include:

  • Watery or bloodshot eyes
  • Stomach ache or vomiting
  • Bleeding or runny nose
  • Diarrhea and abdominal pain
  • Drooling and spitting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Stains on fingers or hands
  • Chemical smell on clothing, hair or breath

Source: CAPHA

Not For Human Consumption

Little oversight prevents a child or teen from purchasing these common household products. Police lack authority to police these type chemicals. No proof of age nor age requirement prevents kids from acquiring these chemicals taking them home and misusing them. Even though at least one product may result in instant and sudden death. This product is canned air used by many clerical workers as an office cleaning supply. Canned air is actually a mixture of chemicals heavier than oxygen in weight. Inhaling these chemicals has proven deadly in many cases.

Intoxicating inhalants have consequences when one develops dependence. Despite potential harms, intoxicating inhalants are available in most stores because legitimate uses out number official reports of deaths from misuse. When death occurs from misuse of inhaled volatile solvents it is difficult to directly link to actual cause unless there are witnesses on scene.

Indigenous Youth Inhalant Use

Studies of First Nations communities in Canada and United States suggest up to 60 percent of youth living on Indigenous lands use and abuse of chemical inhalants. Inhalants are inexpensive and almost anyone can buy them off the shelf at a local store. (NAHO). Some household products open to abuse include gasoline, Sharpies, paint thinner, air duster in a spray can, different types of glue, and others. A statistic published by Foundation for Drug-Free World states, 22% of inhalant abusers who died of Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome had no history of previous inhalant abuse – they were first-time users (

Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey

The Centre for Addiction Mental Health’s conducts an on-going study designed to assess youth drug use is an ongoing school survey that asks participating students about prior drug use in the previous year. This study, Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey or OSDUHS, is the longest ongoing study of its kind. To date, reported findings are based on 19 survey cycles conducted every two years since 1977.

In 2013, 10,272 students (63% of selected students in participating classes) in grades 7 through 12 from 42 participating school boards, 198 schools and 671 classes participated in the OSDUHS administered by the Institute for Social Research, York University. The 2013 survey concluded:

  • a total of 3.4 percent of the students have or are abusing inhalants
  • 2.4% of the males and 4.1% of the females
  • Highest use of 7.6% by students in the 8th grade.

Further 2013 OSDUHS Survey results found a significant decrease in inhalants use for non-Indigenous youth (and 17 other drugs that were highly abused) from 1999 to 2013. For inhalants, glues and solvents a decline from 8.9% in 1999 to 3.4% in 2013 (OSDUHS). The survey found students reporting inhalant use in 2011 declined in 2013 for most provinces, while others showed no decline. Aboriginal communities are examples of those showing no decline. Moreover, according to participants, average age of initiation to inhalants and solvents is becoming increasingly lower now between the ages of 10 and 13. This places the median age of first inhalant experience at the tender age of 11.5. Of course, this factor alone is indicative of serious future issue since this youth demographic (persons under fifteen years of age) is the fastest growing segment of Canada’s overall population making up 5-6 percent. This may prove big trouble for Canada’s future healthcare system, economically speaking since two Indigenous communities have youth populations almost twice the national average. Do the math and realize 5-6 percent amounts to large numbers of at-risk youth.

In Northwest Territories “one person in five, or 21.4%, living in this territory are under 15 years of age, while only six persons in 100 (6.2%) are aged 65 and over. In Nanavut, 31.7% of the population are under 15 years of age”. A proportion almost twice Canada’s national average.

Imagine the damage that inhalants may inflict on human bodies before adulthood if inhalant use becomes habitual. For these and other reasons, Crime Stoppers urges teachers, parents, guardians and lawmakers to gain an understanding as to how to curtail Canadian youth inhalant problem. If left unchecked, this growing problem will reach pandemic proportions and most certainly place a future economic strain on Canada’s health care system in the future.

The following table published by Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in 2013, offers an at a glance comparison of the above statistics including those regarding inhalant use by Canadian school children and teens:



Parents Not Enlightened to Child’s Inhalant Use

With such numbers widely reported, it is no wonder, at least one source calls it “startling” when the Partnership for a Drug-Free America reported in their 2002 Parent Attitude Survey (PATS) reports parents knowledge of a child’s drug use lags far behind at a ratio of 18:1. More to the point, 18 percent of teens (ages 12-17) reported having tried inhalants while only 1 percent of parents of teens believe their child has tried inhalants.

Further, the 2002 PATS reported most parents of school-aged children who discuss drugs with their child are less likely to discuss inhalants than marijuana or other drugs such as heroin, cocaine and crack. For example, 50% of parents discussed marijuana, 39% discussed heroin, cocaine and crack; while only 33% discussed inhalants.

Prevention Education Programs

In those communities with declining inhalant abuse rates there exists a direct link to the presence of prevention education programs, substance abuse treatment centers and adequately staffed clinical and social services. All undeniably absent in those other communities where use, abuse and addiction rates continue to climb. Teachers, community leaders and health care professionals tend to agree educational efforts empower youth to make the right decisions in life.

Teaching children and teens how misuse of common household chemicals like lacquers, gasoline, paints and glues or other household chemicals harm human organs such as lungs, kidneys, brain functionality, oral health. Or, how too often, misuse of inhalants leads to mental health issues for habitual users, it is highly likely most will elect to avoid experiential learning.

Advice for Parents

As a parent or guardian, lack of prevention education in schools and communities makes this conversation with children ultimately a parental responsibility; in the event you feel a bit intimidated by the thought of opening dialogue with your child – you are not alone. Remind yourself that the child’s life may depend on establishing an open line of communication in effort to enlighten children about probable hazards and cumulative harm to human bodies. This is especially true for parents of elementary age kids because inhalant and volatile solvent use now occurs at significantly younger age. Thus, making this type conversation a must.

We suggest a good starting point is explaining adverse bodily responses associated with inhalants such as gasoline and paint thinners. Perhaps even an impromptu role-playing where you ask your child to hold his or her breath for as long as possible which likely brings forth a certain gasping for oxygen in mere minutes. This suggestion is an ad hoc suffocation assimilation. Hopefully, this simulation is enough to convince vulnerable youth there are far better experiences to be had than dying from the misuse of gasoline, spray paints as inhalants, glues and solvents in pursuit of a quick high. In most instances, the attraction for most youth is in challenging the outside world, pushing and stepping on lines and boundaries relating to illicit drug experimentation.

If the thought of entertaining these conversations give you reason to pause, please visit any of the resources cited for additional facts and information relating to inhalant, glue and solvent abuse, substance abuse in general and youth suicide prevention.

Parents, youth and citizens can also contact your local Crime Stoppers agency or local law enforcement if you need information and/or assistance with an at-risk youth or substance abuser.


Marijuana & Cannabis

Marijuana is one of the biggest scourges that have been plaguing Canada and the United States for decades. USA is, actually, the world’s biggest consumer of this psychoactive drug, according to a survey made in 2008 by the World Health Organization. But Canada’s numbers aren’t better.

Cannabis is still the number one consumed drug in the country and, according to a study made by the Addiction Foundation of Manitoba, in 2004, 44.5 percent of Canadians tried marijuana at least once in their life and men with 18 and 19 years old are the biggest consumers.

In both countries, experimenting and consuming marijuana has been a “normal part of growing up”, like professor Peter Reuter, from the University of Maryland, described (If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise? 2009). But, it’s not because most people tend to ignore the dissemination of marijuana that the problem will disappear. The consumption of cannabis continues to increase and the crime scenarios in which the drug is present keep multiplying, not only when drugs are the crime, but also when drugs are one of the reasons why the crime happened. This is not a complete shock if you think that marijuana has psychoactive and physiological effects, especially because of the component THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.

Several scientific studies report that the drug changes not only the consumer’s perception of reality, but also their mood, blood pressure, memory and psychomotor coordination.

This psychoactive drug ends up provoking a mix of feelings, from lethargy to euphoria, not forgetting violence. The long-term effects are still being studied, but soon there will be millions of investigation “samples”, if you think that, in 2009, Roger Roffman, a professor at the University of Washington, assured that “approximately 3.6 million Americans are daily or near daily users” of marijuana (If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise?, 2009).

That’s why Crime Stoppers of Northwestern Ontario and Northern Minnesotahave been fighting for years against marijuana abuse. Because although cannabis is still considered illegal in Canada and Minnesota, the consumers act as if it wasn’t. And, thanks to the statistics, it hasn’t been difficult relating the consumption of this drug to the increase in crime and violence in these regions.

Cannabis Possession Reporting Increased in 2011

Cannabis possessions increased in 2011, according to Statistics Canada. In Canada, drug offences such as possession, trafficking, importation/exportation and production fall under the purview of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

In 2011, police reported more than 113,100 drug crimes, of which more than half (54%) were for the possession of cannabis.

Drug-related crime reporting increased in 2011. This increase was driven by a 7% rise in the rate of cannabis possession offences. However, the rate of trafficking, production and distribution of cannabis declined 11%.

Can drugs be guilty?

Despite the facts, we still need to ask. Can these two issues – drugs, in this case marijuana, and crime – be connected? The answer is yes if we defer to a document published in Minnesota in 2012. According to the “Minnesota State Substance Abuse Strategy“, a document published in 2012 by the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the state of Minnesota, drugs are linked to many of society’s current problems.

Among these problems are “increased crime, illnesses, child abuse and neglect, unwanted pregnancy, birth defects, accidental injuries, motor vehicle crashes and fatalities and accidental overdose deaths” all resulting in or significantly contributing to “increased health care and criminal justice costs” that are borne largely at public expense.

In Minnesota’s case, marijuana is still the most commonly used and available drug in the state, as reported by the National Substance Abuse Index, and the consumption continues to grow. Also, Minnesota was the 17th state with the biggest rate of marijuana abuse in 2012, according to information published on the website, and the crime statistics haven’t decreased significantly in the last few years.

However, when we talk about crime, Canada is an example of what should be made to prevent it, as the country is now enjoying the lowest crime rate in the last 40 years. Yet, there’s an exception that is quite baffling and its name is Northwestern Ontario. The crime increase at the region worries Canada because, although the rates continue to fall all over the country, this is not happening in that particular area. And here is where the issue lies.

A complete survey conducted by the Canadian magazine MacLean’s states that Ontario is the 9th region with the highest rate of violent crimes, such as murder or assault.

How to recognize the signs and prevent addiction

If we want to stop this disaster, all the citizens need to be alert and learn to know the signs of cannabis abuse. It’s up to everyone to help prevent the increase of marijuana abuse. Although thousands of consumers deny their addiction, it’s not difficult to identify the signs and avoiding an addiction might be the same as avoiding a crime in the future. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Like any other drug, regular use of marijuana creates a tolerance in the user, causing him to need more and more drug to get high. These consumers will get the normal withdrawal symptoms such as loss of appetite, irritability, insomnia or anxiety.
  • Being unable to cut down the dosage or stop using marijuana use, what usually results in spending all day getting high.
  • Regular users and addicts tend to reduce all other activities of their daily life like, for instance, their hobbies and even school or work. Missing work because of drugs is an important sign of addiction, because it means that the consumer is willing to risk a significant part of its life because of cannabis.
  • Addicts usually use marijuana to escape from problems like bad grades or relationship issues. The momentary lethargy that cannabis provides turns into an addiction for these people.
  • Someone that chooses relationships or activities based on the possibility of getting high is an obvious sign of addiction to marijuana.

Therefore community groups such as the most obvious, Crime Stoppers of Northwestern Ontario and Northern Minnesota urges citizens to “Know the Signs” as part of its latest public awareness campaign.

Crime Stoppers of Northwestern Ontario and Northern Minnesota further urges citizens not to avoid the issue of increasing marijuana use and abuse and suggests every citizen to become aware of the signs because marijuana users of the present are most likely the up & coming criminals in the future.