Pubdate: Wed, 17 Nov 2004
Source: Goldstream Gazette (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Goldstream Gazette
Author: Rick Stiebel, News Gazette staff
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


A mother-daughter team added powerful personal perspective to the menace of 
crystal meth at a Drug Information Night for Parents last week.

Gabriella Reuben, a Victoria teenager in her seventh month of recovery from 
crystal meth addiction, and her mother, Joanne Reuben, answered questions 
from an attentive audience of about 200 parents during the forum at 
Isabelle Reader Theatre Nov. 9.

Gabriella, demonstrating a surprising maturity and candor for someone weeks 
away from their 17th birthday, said crystal meth is everywhere.

She first heard about the drug while in a detox centre for cocaine.

Many of the kids her own age treated detox as a place to get some rest, and 
couldn't wait to get out and use crystal meth again, she said. Gabriella, 
who started her journey into addiction smoking marijuana when she was nine, 
said a big part of the appeal of crystal is that it is so cheap and easy to 
get. At the height of her use, she was probably spending only $20 a day to 
support her habit.

Asked if marijuana was a gateway drug, she said based on what she learned 
during treatment for her own tendencies, it was for her, but that isn't the 
case with everyone.

Staying clean is still a struggle at times.

"There are good days and bad days," she said, but the support she gets from 
her family has been a huge help. "It will always be a part of my 
life...there are times when I crave it. I have to find the strength."

The memory of what she had done to her life help her deal with the 
depression and craving that still surfaces.

"I feel gross when I think about it," she said.

Her response to whether she has considered giving talks to schools elicited 
a spontaneous burst of applause from the 200 people in attendance, when she 
admitted this was the first time she had publicly discussed her problem and 
fielded questions about it.

"It's something I would consider," Gabriella said.

Her mother, Joanne, described dealing with her daughter's meth addiction as 
a life or death situation.

"There's no funding for treatment for kids 16 and 18," Joanne told the 
gathering. "Your hands are tied."

At one desperate point when she realized help wasn't available, she even 
tried to get Gabriella into the Eric Martin Pavilion, just to get her off 
the street.

"You go on your gut, your intuition and your passion," Joanne said in 
describing her decision to put her daughter in a car and drive her to 
Canmore, Alberta to help her through a nerve-wracking 10-day detoxification.

Although she wouldn't necessarily recommend that route to other parents, 
she was fortunate to have the resources and support in Canmore to help get 
through the ordeal, she said.

"There are factions that want to do something," Joanne said, "but they 
don't have an overview of the nature of the drug, the insanity."

She said an overall strategy is needed that involves detox, after detox and 
the other steps that come after.

Steve Freng, prevention treatment manager for the Northwest High Intensity 
Drug Trafficking Area in Seattle, Washington, also gave a power-point 
presentation outlining how quickly crystal meth use skyrocketed to epidemic 

Historically, meth use was primarily an amphetamine manufactured in 
California by biker gangs that kept the formula secret, Freng said.

"The name crank came about becasue they used to transport it in the crank 
shaft of their bikes," he said.

While the early form was a powerful substance that could provide a boost, 
it paled in comparison to what is available now.

In the 1990s, students at Berkley University came across what is called the 
Nazi formula, one of the methods in use today for making crystal meth, 
Freng said.

The formula, which can produce an ounce of pure crystal in 90 minutes, was 
concocted by the German army, which wanted something that could be produced 
without heat to give the troops in the field a boost.

"It is the perfect drug for the '90s," said Freng, adding that it is the 
most seductive, insidious drug he has encountered in 30 years in his field. 
"It's cheap, it gives you energy, it keeps you thin, and you can make it in 
your kitchen."

There are several methods in use to produce the same results, and as Freng 
attested, "the people running labs aren't exactly rocket scientists," and 
they don't care about harming their own children, their neighbours or the 

While ephredine, the main element in crystal, is readily available in many 
over the counter cold remedies, Washington State has passed legislation 
limiting the number of packages purchased to three a day.

Freng said there is discussion about taking that a step further by making 
all medications that contain ephredine require a prescription.

Washington State's meth Watch program, launched in the wake of the 
proliferation of labs, provides another deterrant by having businesses that 
sell some of the other ingredients such as certain fertillizers, report 
suspicious purchases.

Part of the problem is the equipment required to set up a lab will fit into 
two plastic tubs.

"I won't rent a car without sniffing around the trunk," Freng said.

He stressed the importance of public information meetings to educate the 
public on what to look for if there are suspicions about a lab in their 
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